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The 1991 Reforms, Indian Economic Growth, and Social Progress

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  • Manmohan Agarwal
  • John Whalley

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effects of the reforms initiated in India following the balance of payments (BOP) crisis of 1991 on economic performance. We do not find persuasive the contention of many analysts that growth accelerated after the mid-1980s when reforms were initiated. Nor does statistical analysis support the contention that reforms in the mid-1980s resulted in a growth acceleration. We show that there is an accelerating rate of growth of GDP after the mid 1970s and it is difficult to relate this gradual acceleration to specific policy changes. The changed policies in the 1980s did not mean a basic change in the policy framework. Furthermore, since corporate investment as a share of GDP did not increase in the 1980s it is difficult to identify the mechanism by which the more pro-business policies of the government were translated to higher growth. We also find that the differences with East Asia and particularly China depend on the basis of the comparison. We compare changes in performance since the reforms, which started in China in 1979 and in India in 1991. Such a comparison shows more similarities than differences. We finally examine social progress. We find that South Asia lags behind other regions in making progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and India lags behind other South Asian countries. The responsiveness of the improvement in the MDGs to increases in per capita income is usually low in Asia and particularly in India.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19024.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19024

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  1. Bhagwati, Jagdish N & Chakravarty, Sukhamoy, 1969. "Contributions to Indian Economic Analysis: A Survey," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 59(4), pages 2-73, Part II S.
  2. Ashkok Kotwal & Bharat Ramaswami & Wilima Wadhwa, 2011. "Economic liberalization and Indian economic growth: What's the evidence?," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India 11-13, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  3. Bhagwati, Jagdish, 1993. "India in Transition: Freeing the Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288473, October.
  4. Jagdish N. Bhagwati & T. N. Srinivasan, 1975. "Foreign Trade Regimes and Economic Development: India," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bhag75-1.
  5. Jagdish N. Bhagwati, 1978. "Anatomy and Consequences of Exchange Control Regimes," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bhag78-1.
  6. Panagariya, Arvind, 2011. "India: The Emerging Giant," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780199751563, October.
  7. Anne O. Krueger, 1978. "Liberalization Attempts and Consequences," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number krue78-1.
  8. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian, 2004. "Why India Can Grow At 7 Percent a Year or More," IMF Working Papers, International Monetary Fund 04/118, International Monetary Fund.
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