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A Vaccination for Education - The ICDS and the Education of Older Girls in Rural India

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Girls lag behind boys in education in India. They also appear to provide significant amount of childcare at home. In this paper I investigate if provision of childcare services by India’s largest child development program - Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) - helps to reduce gender education gap byreleasing girls from home responsibilities. There are several mechanisms by which the ICDS provides childcare directly and could reduce its cost. Using logit, covariate matching and conditional logit (villageand mother fixed-effects), I find that in rural India the girls 6-14 years, whose younger sibling below 5 years is receiving any of the ICDS services intensely, have 44% higher odds of schooling, than thosewhose sibling is either receiving no ICDS service or none intensely. The effect on boys 6-14 years is positive, but not robust. Further evidence suggests that younger age girls seem to be benefiting relativelymore, and the effect is driven mainly by positive health benefits of vaccinations of younger children, and perhaps of supplementary feeding. The bigger and more robust effect on girls seems to be consistent with evidence from time-use of children 6-14. In comparison to boys, relatively many more girls spendtime on childcare, especially those with very young siblings of ages 0-23 months, and significantly lesser number combine childcare and education.

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