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We-ness and Welfare: A Longitudinal Analysis of Social Development in Kerala, India

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  • Singh, Prerna

Abstract

Summary This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that ethnic diversity negatively influences public goods provision through a longitudinal study of the Indian state of Kerala, which has attained exceptional levels of social development despite high fragmentation along religious and caste lines. This paper argues that it is not objective diversity but a subjective sense of "we-ness," which is the key determinant of the level of public goods provision and social development. A historical analysis of Kerala illustrates how a cohesive subnational community generates progressive social policy as well as societal monitoring of schools and clinics, which together give rise to relatively high levels of education and health outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Singh, Prerna, 2011. "We-ness and Welfare: A Longitudinal Analysis of Social Development in Kerala, India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 282-293, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:39:y:2011:i:2:p:282-293
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2003. "Fractionalization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 155-194, June.
    2. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    3. Dayton-Johnson, Jeff, 2000. "Determinants of collective action on the local commons: a model with evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 181-208, June.
    4. Dreze, Jean & Sen, Amartya, 2002. "India: Development and Participation," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780199257492.
    5. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1998. "Wealth Inequality and Efficiency in the Commons, Part II: The Regulated Case," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(1), pages 1-22, January.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:03:p:529-546_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Miguel, Edward & Gugerty, Mary Kay, 2005. "Ethnic diversity, social sanctions, and public goods in Kenya," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2325-2368, December.
    8. J. Devika, 2002. "Domesticating Malayalees: Family planning, the nation and home-centred anxieties in Mid-20th century Keralam," Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum Working Papers 340, Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum, India.
    9. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    10. Heller, Patrick, 1996. "Social capital as a product of class mobilization and state intervention: Industrial workers in Kerala, India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1055-1071, June.
    11. Banerjee, Abhijit & Somanathan, Rohini, 2007. "The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 287-314, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerring, John & Thacker, Strom C. & Lu, Yuan & Huang, Wei, 2015. "Does Diversity Impair Human Development? A Multi-Level Test of the Diversity Debit Hypothesis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 166-188.
    2. repec:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:149-161 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Prerna Singh & Dean Spears, 2017. "How status inequality between ethnic groups affects public goods provision: Experimental evidence on caste and tolerance for teacher absenteeism in India," WIDER Working Paper Series 129, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Olle Törnquist & John Harriss, 2015. "Comparative Notes on Indian Experiences of Social Democracy: Kerala and West Bengal," Working Papers id:7482, eSocialSciences.

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