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CEP discussion paper
Mass Education or a Minority Well Educated Elite in the Process of Development: the Case of India
Amparo Castelló-Climent and Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay November 2011
Paper No' CEPDP1086:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I28; O11; O50

Tags: distribution of education; attainment levels; economic growth; panel data

This paper analyses whether in developing countries mass education is more growth enhancing than to have a minority well educated elite. Using the Indian census data as a benchmark and enrollment rates at different levels of education we compute annual attainment levels for a panel of 16 Indian states from 1961 to 2001. Results indicate that if the reduction of illiteracy stops at the primary level of education, it is not worthwhile for growth. Instead, the findings reveal a strong and robust significant effect on growth of a greater share of population completing tertiary education. The economic impact is also found to be very large: if one percent of the adult population were to complete tertiary education instead of completing only primary, the annual growth rate could increase by about 4 percentage points. Moreover, we find that a one percentage change in tertiary education has the same effect on growth as a decrease in illiteracy by 13 percentage points. A sensitivity analysis shows the results are unlikely to be driven by omitted variables, structural breaks, reverse causation or atypical observations.