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Exit at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Empirical Explorations in the Context of Elementary Schooling in Delhi

Publication date

May, 2020


NIPFP Working Paper No. 306


Sukanya Bose, Priyanta Ghosh and Arvind Sardana


The framework of exit and voice, a la Hirschman, is applied to understand the social phenomenon of exit at the bottom of the pyramid. As the dominant groups vote with their feet, the low fee private school (LFPS) is perceived to be offering parents from disadvantaged groups “school choice”. We attempt to establish the size of the LFPS sector, information about which is central to educational planning, regulation and implementation, but invisible in the official database. A methodology based on macro-survey data is formulated and then applied to Delhi that has a substantial underbelly of LFPSs. We find that the estimated size of the LFPS sector accounts for nearly half the share of the overall children attending private schools at the elementary level.
Policy recommendation suggests concrete steps toward expansion of public schools through public investment estimated at 0.3-0.4% of GSDP of Delhi, and upgradation of the existing facilities towards well functional benchmarks as per the RTE design so as to provide a credible alternative to the LFPS sector.
Keywords: Low Fee Private School, Affordability, Exit, Voice, RTE, Elementary Education, Education Policy.
JEL Classification Codes: I21, I24, I28, H75
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