Marrying Young: The Surprising Effect of Education
with Vikram Bahure and Sayli Javadekar

In a traditional marriage market, family’s preferences and beliefs over bride types play a significant role in matching. In this paper, we study how an exogenous increase in female education, a preferred attribute in the marriage market, affects her age at marriage. The District Primary Education Program (DPEP) launched in India in 1994, provides a regression discontinuity set-up to estimate the causal impact of education. Using Demographic Health Survey (DHS) 2015-16 data, we find that the program lead to an increase in the women’s education by 1.5 years. Next, to see the impact of education on age at marriage, we use the program cut-off as an instrument for education. In contrast to the literature, we find a decrease in the age at marriage by 0.44 years due to increase in education. Using a simple transferable utility model, we provide a framework for a negative relationship between education and the age at marriage. As educated and young brides are more desirable in the marriage market, educated women are cleared from the marriage market before less educated women. Further, we find that an increase in education leads to a stable match. Finally, we check if the effect of education on age at marriage varies by the availability of an outside option in the labor market. Our results indicate that educated women in high wage districts on an average marry later than the low wage districts. A 100 rupee increase in women’s wages (25 percent of weekly income) leads to a delay in the age at marriage for educated women by 0.1 years.

Retain or not to retain: Automatic promotion and student outcomes
Funded by UNESCO, GEMR 2019

A large scale education reform in India introduced automatic promotion in all elementary grades. This paper estimates the impact of automatic promotion on education outcomes. I use plausibly exogenous variation in exposure to the policy due to initial differences in repetition rates across districts. I find that automatic promotion reduces dropout rates by 0.1 percentage points for children in the upper-primary age. However, the policy had a negative effect on learning outcomes. The probability that a primary age student could solve a basic reading and arithmetic task falls by 0.3 and 0.8 percentage points respectively. The negative effect was larger for children with a poor socio-economic background. I explore probable mechanisms for the decline in learning levels. I find that districts with congested government schools suffered more due to the policy.

Look no Farther: The Impact of Local Contract Teachers on Student Outcomes
with Ana Balcão Reis

The increasing number of contract teachers in developing countries has led to concerns about the effect of their employment on teacher quality. Contract teachers are in general less trained and qualified. However, they are more likely to be hired from the local community, which can positively affect student out- comes by reducing social distance or through better monitoring. This paper provides evidence on the difference in the impact of contract and regular civil service teachers with a special focus on the effect of being a local teacher or native of the village. Using a value-added estimation method, based on data from a unique survey in India, we find no statistically significant difference in the performance of contract and regular teachers for both grades 4 and 6. However, within contract teachers, we observe that local teachers have a significant and positive impact (0.24 standard deviation) on student learning for grade 6.