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Inheritance of Educational Attainment: Instance of Caste Certificate in India

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Risks and Resilience of Emerging Economies

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Scheduled castes and tribes have been historically discriminated, excluded and marginalized in India. To promote an egalitarian and inclusive society, the Government has imposed reservation policy to extend opportunities to these “backward” classes in higher education, employment and political representation. In this chapter, we aim to explore the efficacy of such reservation in higher education. While the data shows that enrolment has increased over the years, we aim to investigate intergenerational inertia in educational achievement. We have used transition matrix and regression analysis on the data collected from IHDS data from 2011 to 2012. We build on the methodology in papers by Majumder and Ray (Development and exclusion: Intergenerational stickiness in India (MPRA Paper 71182). University Library of Munich, Germany, 2016) and Long and Ferrie (The American Economic Review 103:1109–1137, 2013). Our analysis suggests that there has been vertical mobility across generations. Third generation is more mobile than the second generation in terms of higher education. With regard to the regression analysis, we obtain that if the father’s educational attainment is in category 2 and beyond, then caste certificate does not have a significant contribution toward upward mobility. So, the possession of caste certificate is crucial in bringing about educational mobility but it is not necessary but it has to be coupled with socioeconomic opportunities like expansion of income, provision of educational infrastructure to facilitate higher education. (a) Identification of exact father–son pairs which was not done in previous research; (b) calculation of distance between two contingency tables using Long and Ferrie (The American Economic Review 103:1109–1137, 2013), Lodh et al. (Indian Economic Review 56(1), 2021), and Altham and Ferrie (Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History 40(1), 2007) methodology and (c) exploring the situation in higher education where the instance of reservation policy is more pronounced.

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  1. 1.

    A Dalit is considered to be a person outside the four main castes in the varna system; a member of the Scheduled Castes.

  2. 2.

    The proportion is variable across states. The reason being the proportion of other backward communities which are included are not uniform.

  3. 3.

    Officially Adivasis are termed ‘scheduled tribes’, but this is a legal and constitutional term, which differs from state to state and area to area, and therefore excludes some groups which might be considered indigenous.

  4. 4.

    See Cheng and Dai (1995), Checchi (1997), Bowles and Gintis (2002), Louw et al. (2006), Checchi et al. (2008), Brown et al. (2011).

  5. 5.

    There have been some significant contribution by Kumar et al. (2002a, 2002b), Jalana and Murgai (2008), Maitra and Sharma (2009), Majumder (2010), Ray and Majumder (2013a, 2013b), Motriam and Singh (2021), Hnatkovska et al. (2013).

  6. 6.

    See Leone (2021), Majumdar and Ray (2016), Long and Ferrie (2013), Azam and Bhatt (2015) etc.

  7. 7.

    See Altham and Ferrie (2007).

  8. 8.

    See Janicka and Furdyna (1977).

  9. 9.

    Intergenerational mobility is dependent on a host of factors. These factors could be micro like family background, income level of the family etc. or at a macro level like regional differences, policy parameters. A detailed study of these factors has been carried out by Kumar et al. (2002a, 2002b). In our paper we have restricted our study mostly to income and regional differences along with caste certificate as the instrument for reservation policy.

  10. 10.

    Barooah (2005) have extensively looked into how income differences between the castes created a “discriminating effect” within the social classes. Thorat and Neuman (2012) have come down with similar conclusions.

  11. 11.

    By this we mean if father’s education is falling in category two and beyond and the remaining.

  12. 12.

    A nationally representative, multi-topic panel survey of 42,152 households in 384 districts, 1042 urban and 1420 village neighborhoods across India was conducted by India Human Development Survey 2012. The researchers from the University of Maryland and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), New Delhi jointly organized IHDS. Data source:

  13. 13.

    The reserved categories include Scheduled Castes, scheduled Tribes and Other backward classes.

  14. 14.

    G1: generation one, G2: generation two, G3: generation three.

  15. 15.

    Female family members and family members other than father and son are dropped.

  16. 16.

    We refer them as second-generation sons or G2 in the chapter.

  17. 17.

    Where G1 is first generation, G2 is second generation and G3 is the third.


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We are grateful to an anonymous referee for comments on an earlier draft of the chapter. However, the usual disclaimer applies.

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Correspondence to Rilina Basu .

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Basu, R., Roy, P., Roy, S. (2023). Inheritance of Educational Attainment: Instance of Caste Certificate in India. In: Chatterjee, T.B., Ghose, A., Roy, P. (eds) Risks and Resilience of Emerging Economies. India Studies in Business and Economics. Springer, Singapore.

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