Working Paper


The Incidence of Affirmative Action: Evidence from Quotas in Private Schools in India


Image of Mauricio Romero

Mauricio Romero

RISE India

Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)

Image of Abhijeet Singh

Abhijeet Singh

RISE India

Stockholm School of Economics

This paper studies the effects of India’s main school-integration policy—a 25 percent quota in private schools for disadvantaged students, whose fees are reimbursed by the state—on direct beneficiaries. Combining survey and administrative data from the state of Chhattisgarh, with lottery-based allocation of seats in oversubscribed schools, we show that receiving a quota seat makes students more likely to attend a private school (by 24 percentage points). However, within eligible caste groups, quota applicants are drawn disproportionately from more-educated and economically better-off households and over three-quarters of the applicants who were not allotted a quota seat also attended a private school as fee-paying students. Consequently, we estimate that ~ 70 percent of the total expenditure on each quota seat is inframarginal to school choice. The policy delivers clear gains for direct beneficiaries but is unlikely to affect school integration without broadening the pool of applicants.


Romero, M. and Singh, A. 2022. The Incidence of Affirmative Action: Evidence from Quotas in Private Schools in India. RISE Working Paper Series. 22/088.