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The historical roots of India's service-led development: A sectoral analysis of Anglo-Indian productivity differences, 1870-2000

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  • Broadberry, Stephen
  • Gupta, Bishnupriya

Abstract

India fell further behind the UK in terms of GDP per capita and overall labour productivity between the 1870s and the 1970s, but has been catching-up since. This paper offers a sectoral analysis of these trends. Comparative India/UK labour productivity in agriculture has declined continuously, and agriculture still accounts for around two-thirds of employment in India. Agriculture thus played a key role in India's falling behind and has subsequently slowed down the process of catching up. Although there have been substantial fluctuations in comparative India/UK labour productivity in industry, this sector has exhibited no long run trend. The only sector to exhibit an upward trend in comparative India/UK labour productivity is services. India's recent emergence as a dynamic service-led economy thus appears to have long historical roots. Although India has been characterised by relatively low levels of physical and human capital formation overall, its education provision has historically been unusually skewed towards secondary and tertiary levels. This has provided a limited supply of high productivity workers who have been employed predominantly in services.

Suggested Citation

  • Broadberry, Stephen & Gupta, Bishnupriya, 2010. "The historical roots of India's service-led development: A sectoral analysis of Anglo-Indian productivity differences, 1870-2000," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 264-278, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:264-278
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    Cited by:

    1. Broadberry, Stephen & Custodis, Johann & Gupta, Bishnupriya, 2015. "India and the great divergence: An Anglo-Indian comparison of GDP per capita, 1600–1871," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 58-75.
    2. Chaudhary, Latika, 2010. "Taxation and educational development: Evidence from British India," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 279-293, July.
    3. Kurosaki, Takashi, 2013. "Long-term Agricultural Growth in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh from 1901/02 to 2001/02," CEI Working Paper Series 2013-06, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    4. Broadberry, Stephen N & Gupta, Bishnupriya, 2010. "Indian GDP Before 1870: Some Preliminary Estimates and a Comparison with Britain," CEPR Discussion Papers 8007, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Kurosaki, Takashi, 2013. "Long-term Agricultural Growth in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh from1901/02 to 2001/02," PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series 46, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labour productivity Sectoral disaggregation International comparison Services Education;

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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