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Caste Stratification and Wealth Inequality in India

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  • Zacharias, Ajit
  • Vakulabharanam, Vamsi

Abstract

We analyze the relationship between wealth inequality and caste divisions in India using nationally representative surveys on household wealth conducted during 1991–92 and 2002–03. According to our findings, the groups in India that are generally considered disadvantaged (known as Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes) have, as one would expect, substantially lower wealth than the “forward” caste groups, while the Other Backward Classes and non-Hindus occupy positions in the middle. Using the ANOGI decomposition technique, we estimate that between-caste inequality accounted for about 13% of overall wealth inequality in 2002–03. The stratification parameters indicate that the forward caste Hindus overlap little with the other caste groups, while the latter have significantly higher degrees of overlap with one another and with the overall population. Using this method, we are also able to comment on the emergence and strengthening of a “creamy layer,” or relatively well-off group, among the disadvantaged groups, especially the Scheduled Tribes.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
Issue (Month): 10 ()
Pages: 1820-1833

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Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:39:y:2011:i:10:p:1820-1833

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev

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Keywords: caste; inequality; stratification; distribution of wealth;

References

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  1. Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther & Ghatak, Maitreesh & Lafortune, Jeanne, 2009. "Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India," CEPR Discussion Papers 7300, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. François Bourguignon & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Phillippe G. Leite, 2002. "Beyond Oaxaca-Blinder: Accounting for Differences in Household Income Distributions Across Countries," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 478, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Vani K. Borooah, 2005. "Caste, Inequality, and Poverty in India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 399-414, 08.
  4. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2006. "Traditional Institutions Meet the Modern World: Caste, Gender, and Schooling Choice in a Globalizing Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1225-1252, September.
  5. Subramanian, S. & Jayaraj, D., 2006. "The Distribution of Household Wealth in India," Working Paper Series RP2006/116, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  6. Ashwini Deshpande, 2000. "Does Caste Still Define Disparity? A Look at Inequality in Kerala, India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 322-325, May.
  7. Deshpande, Ashwini, 2001. "Caste at Birth? Redefining Disparity in India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 130-44, February.
  8. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1994. "Economic distance and overlapping of distributions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 147-159, March.
  9. Milanovic, Branko & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Decomposing World Income Distribution: Does the World Have a Middle Class?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(2), pages 155-78, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2013. "How Backward are the Other Backward Classes? Changing Contours of Caste Disadvantage in India," Working papers 233, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.

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