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Keeping up with the Vaishyas? Caste and relative standing in India

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  • Fredrik Carlsson
  • Gautam Gupta
  • Olof Johansson-Stenman

Abstract

People care about relative, and not only absolute, income. This paper investigates the importance of relative income within and between castes in the Indian caste system, using a choice experimental approach. The results indicate that slightly more than half of the marginal utility of income comes from some kind of relative income effects, on average. This is comparable to the results from previous studies in other countries. Belonging to a low caste and having a low family income are associated with higher concern for relative income. Moreover, an increase in the mean income of the caste to which the individual belongs, everything else held constant, reduces utility for the individual. Thus, the negative welfare effect of having a reduced relative income compared to the own caste average income dominates the positive welfare effect due to increased relative income of the own caste compared to the income of other castes. Copyright 2009 , Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 61 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 52-73

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:61:y:2009:i:1:p:52-73

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Cited by:
  1. Carlsson, Fredrik & Qin, Ping, 2010. "It is better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix: Concern for relative standing in rural China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 180-186, April.
  2. Bönte, Werner & Filipiak, Ute, 2012. "Financial literacy, information flows, and caste affiliation: Empirical evidence from India," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 3399-3414.
  3. Xavier Fontaine & Katsunori Yamada, 2012. "Economic Comparison and Group Identity: Lessons from India," PSE Working Papers, HAL hal-00711212, HAL.
  4. Alpaslan Akay & G�khan Karabulut & Peter Martinsson, 2013. "The effect of religiosity and religious festivals on positional concerns -- an experimental investigation of Ramadan," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(27), pages 3914-3921, September.
  5. Akay, Alpaslan & Andersson, Lisa & Martinsson, Peter & Medhin, Haileselassie, 2014. "Positional Concerns among the Poor: Does Reference Group Matter? Evidence from Survey Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 8215, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Asadullah, Mohammad Niaz & Chaudhury, Nazmul, 2012. "Subjective well-being and relative poverty in rural Bangladesh," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 940-950.
  7. Adrian de la Garza & Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Atsushi Sannabe & Katsunori Yamada, 2010. "The Relative Utility Hypothesis With and Without Self-reported Reference Wages," ISER Discussion Paper, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University 0798, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University, revised Jul 2012.
  8. Mueller, Ulrike, 2012. "Pro-poor Service Delivery and Social Identity: An Experimental Investigation," Working Paper Series, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  9. Carlsson, Fredrik & Qin, Ping, 2008. "It is better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix: a study of concern for relative standing in rural China," Working Papers in Economics, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics 308, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  10. Werner Boente & Ute Filipiak, 2011. "Financial Investments, Information Flows, and Caste Affiliation - Empirical Evidence from India," Schumpeter Discussion Papers, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library sdp11014, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
  11. Rik Linssen & Luuk Kempen & Gerbert Kraaykamp, 2011. "Subjective Well-being in Rural India: The Curse of Conspicuous Consumption," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 101(1), pages 57-72, March.
  12. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00564985 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Xavier Fontaine & Katsunori Yamada, 2013. "Caste Comparisons: Evidence from India," ISER Discussion Paper, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University 0867, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  14. Carolina Castilla, 2012. "Subjective well-being and reference-dependence: Insights from Mexico," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 219-238, June.
  15. Alem, Yonas, 2014. "Life-Satisfaction in Urban Ethiopia: The Role of Relative Poverty and Unobserved Heterogeneity," Discussion Papers, Resources For the Future dp-14-04-efd, Resources For the Future.
  16. Wen-Chun Chang, 2013. "Climbing up the Social Ladders: Identity, Relative Income, and Subjective Well-being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 513-535, August.
  17. Alem, Yonas, 2013. "Relative Standing and Life-Satisfaction: Does Unobserved Heterogeneity Matter?," Working Papers in Economics, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics 579, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  18. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-00711212 is not listed on IDEAS

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