Towards Conceptualization of a Household Educational Indicator: Incorporating Externalities

37 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2019

See all articles by Upasak Das

Upasak Das

University of Manchester

Udaya S. Mishra

Center for Development Studies

Date Written: August 24, 2019


Though education is essentially an individual attribute, its positive externality goes beyond the individual to household conditioned by its gendered and generational features. Further, distributional aspects of education levels among the household members are also important in terms of its effects on its welfare outcomes. Hence, education of the head or highest educational level within the household may not adequately represent the household educational levels. In this context, we construct a household educational index that combines three aspects: distribution of education among household members, highest education level among the male and female members and difference in highest education level attained between generations. The generalised final index is found to satisfy all the axioms or the intuitive properties: Monotonicity, Anonymity, Normalisation and Uniformity. Additionally, we examine the values of the proposed indicators against the commonly used indicators including education of the household head and the highest education within the household using a representative survey from India. The empirical results indicate considerable difference between the proposed indicator and these common indicators. We also observe a strong association between our proposed indicator and welfare indicators like learning outcomes among children and having a toilet in the household. This implies usage of common indicators may underestimate the significance of education in terms of its bearing on welfare outcomes. These findings lay emphasis on the significance of conceptualizing a household educational indicator that accommodates the complexities of welfare externalities of individual educational levels within the household.

Keywords: Education, Household index, Externality, Proximity, Gender, India

JEL Classification: I24, I31

Suggested Citation

Das, Upasak and Mishra, Udaya S., Towards Conceptualization of a Household Educational Indicator: Incorporating Externalities (August 24, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Upasak Das (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

United Kingdom

Udaya S. Mishra

Center for Development Studies ( email )


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