Late Bloomers: Parental Safety Net for Middle Class Children in India

Sonalde B. Desai, University of Maryland
Reeve Vanneman, University of Maryland

Increasingly studies note tremendous diversity in educational outcomes between children with similar background. Dalton Conley provides some interesting illustrations (Conley 2004). Why do some children overcome early levels of low achievement and others do not? Parental social class is arguably the most distinctive difference between the two groups. When children from upper social classes face trouble, parental resources provide a safety net that allows to them to overcome this early setback; children from less privileged background rarely get second chances. In this paper, using panel data, we examine education attainment of Indian youth, conditional on their early achievement. We ask: How does parental social class shape educational trajectories of children at varying levels of early achievement? Access to India Human Development Survey, a longitudinal survey of over 41,000 households and about 10,000 children surveyed in both 2004-5 and 2011-12, allows us a unique opportunity to address this question.

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Presented in Session 231: Inequality of Opportunity