Education & Health
Inclusive and equitable provision of quality education and healthcare lies at the core of poverty alleviation and is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. Reduction in economic inequalities and uplift of the poor and other marginalized segments of society rests on human capital investment so that everyone has equal skills to succeed. Additionally, it also hinges on investments in quality healthcare which makes it more accessible and affordable for all, and therefore, not only accounts for a healthier workforce but also prevents the poor from incurring large medical expenditures that are an immense drain on their incomes and further exacerbate poverty. In light of this, research at the centre under this theme focuses on various ways in which education and health outcomes can be ameliorated within the country. The biggest obstacle which needs to be addressed along with improving the quality of education/health is the equitable access of this quality education/health, for the poor, women and other marginalized groups – for whom the educational/health outcomes suffer the most. To partly achieve this end it’s of utmost importance to bridge the gap between the public and private schools/hospitals within the country.
With the aim to investigate these issues and find sustainable solutions to them, some of the work at CREB explores if strengthening social accountability mechanisms can help in improving learning outcomes of the marginalized students for whom these are mostly not at par with peers. It also evaluates reasons for why parents choose to send their children, especially girls, to low- cost private schools instead of public ones in which case the latter are identified to offer lower perceived quality of schooling and safety to girls that deter parents from choosing these schools. Similarly, in relation to girl’s education, it also tests the long-run impact of conditional cash assistance (that lowers the burden of girls’ education on parents) on girls’ secondary school enrollment and marriage outcomes. Moreover, in terms of other marginalized groups, it explores how caste based social exclusion shapes educational opportunities for marginalized castes. In an attempt to improve the overall learning outcomes, other work assesses the impact of low cost behavioral and psychological interventions that focus on development of soft skills which can achieve the desired improvement in learning outcomes within existing educational systems. More recent work looks at the extent of losses in learning due to prolonged closure of schools due to Covid-19 and tests novel ways to facilitate catch up in learning. In terms of health, work at the centre tests the causal impact of offering telehealth services – especially helpful in the times of the pandemic – to female microfinance borrowers on their health outcomes and bargaining power in the household. Moreover, since depression entails economic costs such as reduction in productivity due to a decrease in motivation in performing everyday tasks or formation of pessimistic views on returns to effort, the impact of such behavioural effects of depression are investigated on economic decisions.