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Poverty decline, agricultural wages, and non-farm employment in rural India : 1983-2004

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  • Lanjouw, Peter
  • Murgai, Rinku

Abstract

The authors analyze five rounds of National Sample Survey data covering 1983, 1987/8, 1993/4, 1999/0, and 2004/5 to explore the relationship between rural diversification and poverty. Poverty in rural India declined at a modest rate during this period. The authors provide region-level estimates that illustrate considerable geographic heterogeneity in this progress. Poverty estimates correlate well with region-level data on changes in agricultural wage rates. Agricultural labor remains the preserve of the uneducated and also to a large extent of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Although agricultural labor grew as a share of total economic activity over the first four rounds, it had fallen back to the levels observed at the beginning of the survey period by 2004. This all-India trajectory masks widely varying trends across states. During this period, the rural non-farm sector grew modestly, mainly between the last two survey rounds. Regular non-farm employment remains largely associated with education levels and social status that are rare among the poor. However, casual labor and self-employment in the non-farm sector reveal greater involvement by disadvantaged groups in 2004 than in the preceding rounds. The implication for poverty is not immediately clear - the poor may be pushed into low-return casual non-farm activities due to lack of opportunities in the agricultural sector rather than being pulled by high returns offered by the non-farm sector. Econometric estimates reveal that expansion of the non-farm sector is associated with falling poverty via two routes: a direct impact on poverty that is likely due to a pro-poor marginal incidence of non-farm employment expansion; and an indirect impact attributable to the positive effect of non-farm employment growth on agricultural wages. The analysis also confirms the important contribution to rural poverty reduction from agricultural productivity, availability of land, and consumption levels in proximate urban areas.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4858.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4858

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Keywords: Rural Poverty Reduction; Labor Markets; Labor Policies; Crops&Crop Management Systems;

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  1. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1998. "Why Have Some Indian States Done Better Than Others at Reducing Rural Poverty?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 17-38, February.
  2. Gaurav Datt & Valerie Kozel & Martin Ravallion, 2003. "A Model-Based Assessment of India's Progress in Reducing Poverty in the 1990s," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-32, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  3. (No last name available), Himanshu, 2013. "Poverty and Food Security in India," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 369, Asian Development Bank.
  4. Yoko Kijima & Lanjouw, Peter, 2003. "Poverty in India during the1990s - a regional perspective," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3141, The World Bank.
  5. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 1999. "When is growth pro-poor? Evidence from the diverse experiences of India's states," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2263, The World Bank.
  6. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 2004. "Agricultural Productivity Growth, Rural Economic Diversity, and Economic Reforms: India, 1970-2000," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 509-42, April.
  7. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 1996. "How Important to India's Poor Is the Sectoral Composition of Economic Growth?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(1), pages 1-25, January.
  8. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 2002. "Why has economic growth been more pro-poor in some states of India than others?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 381-400, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Asadullah, M. Niaz & Yalonetzky, Gaston, 2012. "Inequality of Educational Opportunity in India: Changes Over Time and Across States," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1151-1163.
  2. Gang, Ira N. & Sen, Kunal & Yun, Myeong-Su, 2012. "Is Caste Destiny? Occupational Diversification among Dalits in Rural India," IZA Discussion Papers 6295, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Pieters, Janneke, 2010. "Growth and Inequality in India: Analysis of an Extended Social Accounting Matrix," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 270-281, March.
  4. Atamanov, Aziz & Van den Berg, Marrit, 2012. "Determinants of the rural nonfarm economy in Tajikistan," MERIT Working Papers 080, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  5. Ashima Goyal & Akash Kumar Baikar, 2014. "Psychology, cyclicality or social programs: Rural wage and inflation dynamics in India," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2014-014, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
  6. Ojimba, Thankgod Peter, 1. "Socio-Demographic Factors As Determinants Of Poverty In Crude Oil Polluted Crop Farms In Rivers State, Nigeria," International Journal of Food and Agricultural Economics (IJFAEC), Niğde University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, vol. 1.
  7. Klonner, Stefan & Oldiges , Christian, 2014. "Safety Net for India's Poor or Waste of Public Funds? Poverty and Welfare in the Wake of the World's Largest Job Guarantee Program," Working Papers 0564, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  8. Magnus Hatlebakk, 2012. "Poverty dynamics in rural Orissa: Transitions in assets and occupations over generations," CMI Working Papers 11, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  9. Nidhiya Menon & Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, 2011. "How Access to Credit Affects Self-employment: Differences by Gender during India's Rural Banking Reform," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(1), pages 48-69.
  10. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, 2010. "Is There Surplus Labor in Rural India?," Working Papers 991, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  11. Basu, Kaushik, 2013. "Shared prosperity and the mitigation of poverty : in practice and in precept," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6700, The World Bank.
  12. Christiaensen, Luc & Pan,Lei & Wang, Sangui, 2010. "Drivers of Poverty Reduction in Lagging Regions: Evidence from Rural Western China," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Working Paper W, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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