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Caste, Inequality, and Poverty in India: A Re-Assessment

Borooah, Vani and Diwakar, Dilip and Naik, Ajaya and Sabharwal, Nidhi (2013): Caste, Inequality, and Poverty in India: A Re-Assessment. Published in: Development Studies Research , Vol. 1, No. 1 (2014): pp. 279-294.

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to examine the inequality and poverty issues of rural households in India from the perspective of a household’s monthly per capita consumption expenditure using data on nearly 20,000 households. In examining these issues, the paper first sets out a model of a poverty–inequality trade-off whereby governments could choose the poverty–inequality combination they most preferred. Then the paper proceeds to examine whether there is a ‘caste basis’ to inequality and poverty in India or whether distributional and deprivation outcomes are ‘caste blind’ and entirely determined by the attributes of the individual households. Our overarching conclusion is that households’ outcomes with respect to their position on the distributional ladder, or with respect to their chances of being poor, are dependent in large measure on their caste. So households from the Scheduled Castes were more likely to be in the lowest quintile of consumption, and were more likely to be poor, than high-caste Hindu households.

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