ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gender Differentials in Education: Exploring the Capabilities Approach

Motivation and freedom of choice are mediated through the institutions of caste and religion, which restrict freedom, particularly of women. This paper discusses whether the capabilities approach provides any advantage in addressing questions of inequality that may be also mediated through such institutions. With the help of empirical data, the capabilities approach is used to identify "conversion factors" that are not typically addressed in the utility approach. A comparison is made between knowledge generated through the use of traditional data sources to measure access and returns to education with the knowledge about the dynamics of capabilities formation generated through the use of a mixture of data within the capabilities approach. This has the potential to help public policy decisions to improve education design and outcomes for girls from disadvantaged sections.

This paper was presented at the annual conference of the Human Development and Capability Association on Equality, Inclusion and Human Development, New Delhi, 10-13 September 2008. The author acknowledges the comments of the participants at the conference, and G Omkarnath and Elizabeth Hill for reviewing an earlier draft of the paper.

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