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Caste Comparisons in India: Evidence From Subjective Well-Being Data

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  • Fontaine, Xavier
  • Yamada, Katsunori

Abstract

This paper evaluates how caste influences economic comparisons in India. Using happiness data from an original panel survey, we find that both within-caste comparisons and between-caste comparisons reduce well-being. Between-caste comparisons reduce well-being three times more than within-caste comparisons. In absolute terms, an increase in rival caste expenditures affects well-being as much as primary expenditure. These findings highlight the strong influence that comparisons between rival castes have on well-being. Yet this comparison scheme turns out to be asymmetrical: only low-caste individuals are affected by the economic successes of their rivals, whereas only higher-caste individuals compete with their fellows.

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  • Fontaine, Xavier & Yamada, Katsunori, 2014. "Caste Comparisons in India: Evidence From Subjective Well-Being Data," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 407-419.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:64:y:2014:i:c:p:407-419
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2014.06.025
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    2. Paula Carrasco & Rodrigo Ceni & Ivone Perazzo & Gonzalo Salas, 2021. "Are Not Any Silver Linings in the Cloud? Subjective Well-being Among Deprived Young People," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 491-516, February.
    3. Kebede, Bereket & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2015. "Social Preferences and Agricultural Innovation: An Experimental Case Study from Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 267-280.
    4. Bert Van Landeghem & Anneleen Vandeplas, 2016. "Lower in rank, but happier: the complex relationship between status and happiness," LICOS Discussion Papers 38516, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    5. Vijesh V Krishna & Lagesh M Aravalath & Surjit Vikraman, 2019. "Does caste determine farmer access to quality information?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(1), pages 1-22, January.
    6. 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.
    7. VAN DEN BROECK, Goedele & MAERTENS, Miet, 2015. "Does Off-farm Employment Make Women in Rural Senegal Happy?," Working Papers 232593, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centre for Agricultural and Food Economics.
    8. Muna Shifa & Murray Leibbrandt, 2018. "Relative Economic Position and Subjective Well-Being in a Poor Society: Does Relative Position Indicator Matter?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 139(2), pages 611-630, September.
    9. Fernandez, Antonia & Della Giusta, Marina & Kambhampati, Uma S., 2015. "The Intrinsic Value of Agency: The Case of Indonesia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 92-107.
    10. Aklin, Michaël & Cheng, Chao-Yo & Urpelainen, Johannes, 2018. "Social acceptance of new energy technology in developing countries: A framing experiment in rural India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 466-477.
    11. Birthal, Pratap Singh & Roy, Devesh & Negi, Digvijay S., 2015. "Agricultural diversification and poverty in India:," IFPRI discussion papers 1446, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    12. Matthys, Marie-Luise & Acharya, Sushant & Khatri, Sanjaya, 2021. "“Before cardamom, we used to face hardship”: Analyzing agricultural commercialization effects in Nepal through a local concept of the Good Life," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).

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