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Class or caste? A study on the role of caste and wealth status in school choice decision

Sukanta Bhattacharya, , Kumarjit Mandal, Anirban Mukherjee
Published in Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume: 25
Issue: 1
Pages: 255 - 276

There is a strong political opinion in India in favour of replacing caste based affirmative action with an economic class based one. We contribute to this debate by looking at the interaction of caste and wealth in school choice. We show that too rich and too poor parents behave in the same way irrespective of their caste identities—rich parents sending their children to private schools while poor parents choosing public schools for their children. The caste identity, we find, plays a role for the school choice decision made by the parents belonging to the economic middle class. Among the economic middle class parents, the ones from the privileged castes send their children to private schools, while the children of the parents from the disadvantaged castes are sent to public schools. The result is robust to alternative definitions of privileged and disadvantaged castes. For school quality choice, however, we find a monotonic relationship between wealth and school quality.

About the journal
JournalReview of Development Economics
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Open AccessNo