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DO PRIVATE TUTORS ENHANCE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ABILITY? REGRESSION DISCONTINUITY EVIDENCE FROM A POLICY EXPERIMENT IN INDIA

Somdeep Chatterjee

Bulletin of Economic Research, 2018, vol. 70, issue 2, 139-149

Abstract: Empirical evidence has shown that returns to English language ability are substantial in India. Research has also focused on the impact of private tutoring in the context of developing economies to find evidence that remedial teaching leads to better student achievement and higher test scores. In this paper I analyze whether private tutoring helps in developing English language ability. Simple OLS estimates suggest statistically significant effects but estimated coefficients are rather small at 0.2 percentage points. Presence of confounders and selection bias may potentially understate the true effects of private tutoring on English language ability. To address this issue, I exploit a unique policy experiment in India in a regression discontinuity framework to identify cohorts eligible for private tutoring and compare their outcomes to the ineligible. I use this potentially exogenous policy variation as an instrument for private tutoring and find significant increases in English language ability estimated at 16 percentage points which is much larger than the simple OLS effects. Since standard academic curriculum is not directed towards improving foreign language ability, private tutoring as an input in the education production function seems to offer high marginal returns. From a policy perspective, this implies that private tutoring should be encouraged for enhancing English ability even though there are concerns that this provides disincentives for teachers to teach in school.

Date: 2018
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