Experimentally Measuring Discrimination in Education with an Application to Caste Discrimination in India
Leigh Linden

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Columbia University

Primary Discipline

Many historically disadvantaged groups around the world may experience discrimination in education. Rather than estimating such discrimination in a laboratory setting, Rema Hanna (Harvard KSG) uses field experiment to measure the degree to which teachers in a city in Northeast India discriminate against students from low caste backgrounds. This field experiment, built around an exam competition, allows us to assess the behavior of teachers in an environment in which both the activities performed (test grading) and incentives faced by teachers (the potential to affect student wellbeing) are similar to those that teachers face in the classroom. Specifically, we recruited children into a competition in which the winner is determined by their score on an exam covering the official state curriculum. One hundred twenty teachers were paid to grade 25 of these exams, knowing that their grades would determine the allocation of financially significant prizes. However, the individual tests that the teachers observed contain randomly generated information about the students’ caste, gender, and age along with the actual exams. The random assignment of student characteristics allows us to measure discrimination by directly comparing the scores that teacher award to tests assigned the characteristics of low caste students.
About Leigh Linden

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