Remember when It Rained: Gender Discrimination in Elementary School Enrollment in India

Laura Zimmermann, University of Michigan

Girls in India have significantly lower school enrollment rates than boys. Anecdotal evidence suggests that intra-household gender discrimination is the most important cause, but empirical support in most of the previous literature is rare and seemingly inconsistent with patterns in related economic research. I propose that this may be due to a combination of endogeneity issues and inadequate attention to age-specific forms of discrimination. I analyze school enrollment using a plausibly exogenous source of income variation for rural households: rainfall shocks. The results show that girls' school enrollment is more vulnerable to rainfall shocks than that of boys, with primary-school-aged children driving these effects. I also make use of the fact that different potential explanations of gender differences yield distinct testable predictions about the heterogeneity of rainfall effects in order to analyze the importance of specific potential explanations for my results.

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Presented in Session 47: Educational and Labor Force Inequality in Developing Countries II