Munich Personal RePEc Archive

A Village-level Study of Poverty in Bihar: Using panel data Approach

Singh, Krishna M. and Singh, R.K.P. and Meena, M.S. and Kumar, Abhay and Kumar, Anjani (2011): A Village-level Study of Poverty in Bihar: Using panel data Approach.

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In India, Bihar is amongst poorest state, with poverty incidence of 42.6%. Bihar constitutes about 3% of national geographical area, but supports, 8 % of its population. The state is characterized as most backward state of India. In Bihar there has been a slow decline in the incidence of poverty, from 62 % in early 1980s to 42 % at the end of 20th century. And it remained almost constant up to 2005-2006. There has not been any significant influence of the agricultural development and poverty alleviation programmes on reduction of poverty. The present study has been planned to understand the socio-economics status of rural households, which have association with poverty in Bihar. The study is based on data obtained from 160 households, through panel interview under the project entitled, “Tracking changes in rural poverty in villages and household economies of South Asia”.

Analysis of data revealed that more than 90% of households in studied villages had less than 1 hectare of land, and per capita land worked out to be about 0.048 ha. Agriculture is still the main economic activity and land is the main asset, but 74% of households are either landless or own less than 0.20 ha of land, which can not sustain a family of 5-8 members. Per capita land is not only low, but there is skewed distribution of land in villages under study. About 75% of households are either landless or sub-marginal farmers, who own only 8.5% of land of the villages studied. Livestock is the second most important source of livelihood, and the distribution of livestock is less skewed than land. Hence it may be said that, the promotion of livestock production will help reducing poverty. Due to slow growth in agriculture and launching of various development programmes, including MNREGA, occupational profile of rural households has changed. In villages under study, more than 50% of workers got employment in non-farm sector and became the main source of livelihood for poor households. Migration has emerged as one of the important survival strategies in Bihar. It was observed that at least one family member of 50 % of households, migrated for gainful employment, either to nearby town or outside the state and remittances sent by migrants is utilized to support the livelihood.

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