Jobs for Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka: What’s Education Got to Do with It?

Maitreyi B. Das, World Bank Group
Rasmus Heltberg, World Bank Group

We use three waves of the Sri Lanka Labor Force Survey (1992, 1996, 2002) to understand the differences in the relationship between paid employment and higher education for Sinhalese and Tamils, in a regime of profound ethnic conflict, rapid structural change and high open unemployment. Probit models for Sinhalese and Tamil men and women show that both groups of men are less likely to be employed if they have higher education. However, over the period 1992-2002, all Sinhalese men’s chances to secure employment have increased, while educated Tamil men’s chances have decreased. For women the results are diametrically opposite. Higher education reduces the likelihood of Tamil women and increases that of Sinhalese women to be employed. The decade under consideration has no effect on Tamil women’s employment, but increased all Sinhalese women’s chances of being employed. It also increased in particular, educated Sinhalese women’s chances of being employed in 1996 compared to other women.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Education, Gender, Religion, Language and Culture