Retain or not to retain: Automatic promotion and student outcomes
(Job Market Paper) 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.

Indian matchmaking: Impact of large scale education program (Available on request)
with Vikram Bahure and Sayli Javadekar

Marriage markets are important determinants of human capital investment and fertility outcomes. Marriage market outcomes, especially the age of marriage influence economic opportunities for women. In this paper, we study the impact of the large-scale education program in India, District Primary Education Program (DPEP), on female education and the marriage market. The program provides a regression discontinuity set-up to estimate the causal impact. The districts below the national average of female literacy were selected in the program. Preliminary results show that female education increases by 1.3 years. The program further reduces the age of marriage and increases partner’s education.