< Gender- and wealth-driven disparities affecting children's school performance researchers from the University of Birmingham and the University of East Anglia >
August 3, 2020 • jainendra joshi • UNIVERSAL



Findings from a search conducted by researchers from the University of Birmingham and the University

of East Anglia found that poorer children still experience educational disadvantages compared to

children from wealthier

Their work ‘Picking winners: An empirical analysis of the determinants of educational outcomes in India’,

is published in the British Educational Research Journal.

The research was conducted jointly by Dr. Christian Darko, a lecturer in Applied Business and Labour

Economics at the Birmingham Business School and Dr. Nicholas Vasilakos, a lecturer in International

Business in the Norwich Business School at UEA.


These findings further show that despite the success of educational policy reforms in boosting enrolment

rates and improving access to education for boys and girls in Indian households, wealth and gender

differences still impact the educational progress of young children in India.

Dr. Darko said, “Because changes in culture are more difficult (and slower) to achieve, interventions that

go beyond education policy is required”.

The project used data from the Young Lives longitudinal survey to analyze the effect of socioeconomic

conditions and gender on the tutorial performance of young children in India.

Data were drawn from standardized scores on two cognitive tests: the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test

(PPVT) and a maths test, and therefore the researchers checked out results from 951 children from the

regions of Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, and Telangana.

. Despite recent policy reforms in boosting enrolment rates and improving access to education, there is

still substantial gender- and wealth-driven disparities affecting the tutorial progression of young children

in India Our results show that children from wealthier households consistently outperform their less-affluent peers."

“There also are significant gender differences within the way household wealth affects the tutorial

performance of youngsters. Specifically, boys born into wealthier households perform considerably

better in maths than those from worse-off economic backgrounds. The effect of wealth on the PPVT –

which measures verbal ability and general cognitive development – is stronger for women than it's for


“We also find that high caregiver aspirations are positively and significantly associated with better

performance in math, for boys but not for girls.”

Children from wealthier households have fewer constraints – like the value of books, school fees or

uniforms – and no got to work for income or perform household chores, as their less-affluent peers

often must. Additionally, children from poorer households may only have access to substandard

schools and resources, and less parental support with their education. They are also more

susceptible to adverse economic shocks, which may in turn force parents to make choices

about which child to send to school – or indeed, to choose between work and education.

The research highlighted the importance of youth education as a determinant of later-life success.

Moreover, additional policy reforms need to consider gender differences in access to education as well

as employment opportunities and tackle issues related to gender bias both in schools and the workplace.


Dr. Vasilakos said: “Educational policy reforms may not be able to fully achieve their objectives unless

they are accompanied by economic policies that address issues of inequity and inequality. Such policies

should aim to economically empower poorer households to reap the benefits of educational reforms by

making them less reliant on their children’s income for survival, whilst improving schooling quality,

especially in areas where children from poorer households are likely to be over-represented.

Until these changes happen, India is going to be limiting its economic and developmental potential.”