Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics

Delhi School of Economics


Importance of English as a Second Language: Learnings from a Language Experiment in India


Gitanjali Sen
(Shiv Nadar University)

(Thursday, May  18, 2023, 3:15 PM IST)
Venue: Amex Room 


Using a language policy and a consequent policy reversal as a source of exogenous variation, we study the impact of the removal of English language from primary grades of government schools on private investments in education in the Indian state of West Bengal. We find that the affected cohort has a four-percentage point higher likelihood of being enrolled in private school, increasing to a seven-percentage point for the richest. The economically better-off households among government school students spend more on private tuition. While the intention of English removal was to encourage higher participation of the disadvantaged, an unintended consequence of the policy has been the movement away from almost free public schools by the relatively well-off. The rich buy English education through higher (private) investment, while the poor lose out on the skill premium. Our estimates survive a battery of robustness tests.
All are cordially invited.

back to seminars…