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Caste Stratification and Wealth Inequality in India

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  • Zacharias, Ajit
  • Vakulabharanam, Vamsi

Abstract

We analyze the relationship between wealth inequality and caste divisions in India using nationally representative surveys on household wealth conducted during 1991–92 and 2002–03. According to our findings, the groups in India that are generally considered disadvantaged (known as Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes) have, as one would expect, substantially lower wealth than the “forward” caste groups, while the Other Backward Classes and non-Hindus occupy positions in the middle. Using the ANOGI decomposition technique, we estimate that between-caste inequality accounted for about 13% of overall wealth inequality in 2002–03. The stratification parameters indicate that the forward caste Hindus overlap little with the other caste groups, while the latter have significantly higher degrees of overlap with one another and with the overall population. Using this method, we are also able to comment on the emergence and strengthening of a “creamy layer,” or relatively well-off group, among the disadvantaged groups, especially the Scheduled Tribes.

Suggested Citation

  • Zacharias, Ajit & Vakulabharanam, Vamsi, 2011. "Caste Stratification and Wealth Inequality in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 1820-1833.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:39:y:2011:i:10:p:1820-1833
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2011.04.026
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Himanshu, 2019. "Inequality in India: A review of levels and trends," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-42, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    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. Bharathi, Naveen & Malghan, Deepak & Mishra, Sumit & Rahman, Andaleeb, 2018. "Spatial Segregation, Multi-scale Diversity, and Public Goods," SocArXiv 4fq8z, Center for Open Science.
    4. Deshpande, Ashwini & Ramachandran, Rajesh, 2019. "Traditional hierarchies and affirmative action in a globalizing economy: Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 63-78.
    5. Prashant Das & N. Edward Coulson & Alan Ziobrowski, 2019. "Caste, Faith, Gender: Determinants of Homeownership in Urban India," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 59(1), pages 27-55, July.
    6. Abigail Weitzman, 2014. "Women's and Men's Relative Status and Intimate Partner Violence in India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 40(1), pages 55-75, March.
    7. Girard, Victoire, 2018. "Don’t Touch My Road. Evidence from India on Affirmative Action And Everyday Discrimination," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 1-13.
    8. Krishna, V. & Vikraman, S. & Aravalath, L., 2018. "Caste-based social segregation and access to public extension services in India," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 276944, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    9. Chandan Sharma & Sudharshan Reddy Paramati, 2018. "Measuring Inequality of Opportunity for the Backward Communities: Regional Evidence from the Indian Labour Market," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 138(2), pages 479-503, July.
    10. Sreeraj A. P & Vamsi Vakulabharanam, 2016. "High growth and rising inequality in Kerala since the 1980s," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 367-383, October.
    11. 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.
    12. Amit Basole & Deepankar Basu, 2015. "Non-Food Expenditures and Consumption Inequality in India," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2015-06, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.

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