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Castes and Labor Mobility


  • Viktoria Hnatkovska
  • Amartya Lahiri
  • Sourabh Paul


We examine the relative fortunes of the historically disadvantaged scheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST) in India in terms of their education attainment, occupation choices, consumption and wages. We study the period 1983-2005 using household survey data from successive rounds of the National Sample Survey. We find that this period has been characterized by a significant convergence of education, occupation distribution, wages and consumption levels of SC/STs toward non-SC/ST levels. Using various decomposition approaches we find that the improvements in education account for a major part of the wage and consumption convergence. (JEL I24, O15, O17, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Viktoria Hnatkovska & Amartya Lahiri & Sourabh Paul, 2012. "Castes and Labor Mobility," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 274-307, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:2:p:274-307 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.2.274

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ito, Takahiro, 2009. "Caste discrimination and transaction costs in the labor market: Evidence from rural North India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 292-300, March.
    2. Vani K. Borooah, 2005. "Caste, Inequality, and Poverty in India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 399-414, August.
    3. 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.
    4. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Kaivan Munshi, 2011. "Strength in Numbers: Networks as a Solution to Occupational Traps," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 1069-1101.
    6. Banerjee, Biswajit & Knight, J. B., 1985. "Caste discrimination in the Indian urban labour market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 277-307, April.
    7. Stanislav Kolenikov, 2010. "Resampling variance estimation for complex survey data," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 10(2), pages 165-199, June.
    8. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
    9. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-564, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2017. "The Causes and Costs of Misallocation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 151-174, Summer.
    2. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2013. "How Backward are the Other Backward Classes? Changing Contours of Caste Disadvantage in India," Working Papers id:5422, eSocialSciences.
    3. Abraham, Vinoj, 2012. "Wages and earnings of marginalized social and religious groups in India: Data sources, scope, limitations and suggestions," MPRA Paper 37799, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2013. "Misallocation and productivity," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(1), pages 1-10, January.
    5. Bhalotra, Sonia & Clots-Figueras, Irma & Cassan, Guilhem & Iyer, Lakshmi, 2014. "Religion, politician identity and development outcomes: Evidence from India," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 4-17.
    6. repec:pal:eurjdr:v:29:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1057_s41287-016-0011-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Ira N. Gang & Kunal Sen & Myeong-Su Yun, 2017. "Is Caste Destiny? Occupational Diversification among Dalits in Rural India," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 29(2), pages 476-492, April.
    8. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2014. "Under the Thumb of History? Political Institutions and the Scope for Action," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 951-971, August.
    9. Shantanu Khanna, 2012. "Gender wage discrimination in India-- Glass ceiling or sticky floor?," Working papers 214, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    10. Bidner, Chris & Eswaran, Mukesh, 2015. "A gender-based theory of the origin of the caste system of India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 142-158.
    11. Mehtabul Azam, 2016. "Household Income Mobility in India, 1993-2011," Economics Working Paper Series 1705, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    12. repec:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:163-181 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2016. "The Changing Contours of Inter group Disparities and the Role of Preferential Policies in a Globalizing World: Evidence from India," Working Papers id:11519, eSocialSciences.
    14. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2016. "The Changing Contours of Intergroup Disparities and the Role of Preferential Policies in a Globalizing World- Evidence from India," Working papers 267, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    15. Viktoria Hnatkovska & Amartya Lahiri, 2011. "The Post-Reform Narrowing of Inequality Across Castes: Evidence from the States," Working Papers 1117, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, revised Jan 2011.
    16. Subha Mani & Saurabh Singhal & Smriti Sharma & Utteeyo Dasgupta, 2016. "Caste differences in behaviour and personality Evidence from India," WIDER Working Paper Series 060, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    17. Guha, Brishti & Roy Chowdhury, Prabal, 2017. "Affirmative Action in the Presence of a Creamy Layer: Identity or Class Based?," MPRA Paper 78686, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Megha Mukim & Arvind Panagariya, 2011. "Growth, Openness and the Socially Disadvantaged," Working Papers 1113, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, revised Jun 2011.
    19. Kelly, Orla & Krishna, Aditi & Bhabha, Jacqueline, 2016. "Private schooling and gender justice: An empirical snapshot from Rajasthan, India's largest state," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 175-187.
    20. Rajeev Dehejia & Arvind Panagariya, 2011. "Entrepreneurship in Services and Socially Disadvantaged in India," Working Papers 1114, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, revised Oct 2011.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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