This paper provides an analysis of the school and work patterns of 11- and 12-year-old children who live in areas affected by severe drought in Andhra Pradesh, India. The drought analysed in this study occurred during the 2002-03 agricultural year. It has affected 90 per cent of mandals in the region, lowering crop yields and employment.
On the outset, it might appear that such a large economic shock would affect children's work and schooling patterns in much the same way. However, this paper presents several influences that a severe drought might have on the school and work patterns of children in rural, agricultural households. Drought reduces productivity and therefore, the amount of household profit and disposable income available for children's education. Thus, school participation might seem likely to decrease. On the other hand, because drought reduces the need for children?s labour, times of drought may enable children to spend more time at school because there is less work to do.
This paper takes these divergent possibilities into account and models children's work and school participation accordingly for four demographic groups within families: the eldest girl, the eldest boy, younger girls and younger boys. In general, the results show that the drought affected school participation hours for an average child by a reduction of about 30 minutes. However, when we take the different demographic groups into account we find that work and school participation patterns shift disproportionately. In particular, rural households affected by drought reallocate the time that children spend at work and school. While eldest sons in irrigation-farming households reduce the number of hours they work and increase the time they spend in school, the work of girls (both eldest and younger daughters) increases, presumably in work activities unaffected by the drought.