Left Behind: The Impact of Legal Status on Educational Attainment among the 'Hill Tribes' of Northern Thailand

Amanda L Flaim, Cornell University

Analysis of the UNESCO Highland Peoples' Survey, a census household survey of over 63,000 respondents along the borders of Northern Thailand, indicates that highland ethnic minorities are accessing education in unprecedented numbers. Although access to public services such as education appears to be expanding in these remote areas, many highlanders remain politically excluded from participating in the Thai state. Hundreds of thousands of people who have lived in Thailand for generations are undocumented and face political marginalization and economic exploitation as a result. This analysis investigates the impact of legal status--defined as both citizenship and birth registration status--on educational attainment outcomes among highland ethnic minorities in Northern Thailand. Multinomial logistic regression analysis is employed to understand the impacts of legal status on the relative odds of progressing through the Thai educational system. Those without legal status are found to be significantly disadvantaged in entering and progressing through schooling in Thailand.

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Presented in Poster Session 2