IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Does Urbanization Affect Rural Poverty? Evidence from Indian Districts


  • Massimiliano Calì
  • Carlo Menon


Although a high rate of urbanization and a high incidence of rural poverty are two distinct features of many developing countries, there is little knowledge of the effects of the former on the latter. Using a large sample of Indian districts from the 1983–1999 period, we find that urbanization has a substantial and systematic poverty-reducing effect in the surrounding rural areas. The results obtained through an instrumental variable estimation suggest that this effect is causal in nature and is largely attributable to the positive spillovers of urbanization on the rural economy rather than to the movement of the rural poor to urban areas. This rural poverty-reducing effect of urbanization is primarily explained by increased demand for local agricultural products and, to a lesser extent, by urban-rural remittances, the rural land/population ratio, and rural nonfarm employment. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Massimiliano Calì & Carlo Menon, 2013. "Does Urbanization Affect Rural Poverty? Evidence from Indian Districts," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 27(2), pages 171-201.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:27:y:2013:i:2:p:171-201

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Philippe Aghion & Robin Burgess & Stephen J. Redding & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2008. "The Unequal Effects of Liberalization: Evidence from Dismantling the License Raj in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1397-1412, September.
    2. Ravallion, Martin, 2002. "On the urbanization of poverty," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 435-442, August.
    3. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 299-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. David Atkin, 2013. "Trade, Tastes, and Nutrition in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1629-1663, August.
    5. Rao, P. Parthasarathy & Birthal, P. S. & Joshi, P. K. & Kar, D., 2004. "Agricultural diversification in India and role of urbanization," MTID discussion papers 77, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Gaurav Datt & Martin Ravallion, 2002. "Is India's Economic Growth Leaving the Poor Behind?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 89-108, Summer.
    7. Martin Ravallion & Shaohua Chen & Prem Sangraula, 2007. "New Evidence on the Urbanization of Global Poverty," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(4), pages 667-701.
    8. Subramanian, Shankar & Deaton, Angus, 1996. "The Demand for Food and Calories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 133-162, February.
    9. Christopher F Baum & Mark E Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2002. "IVREG2: Stata module for extended instrumental variables/2SLS and GMM estimation," Statistical Software Components S425401, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 09 Feb 2016.
    10. Mark E Schaffer, 2005. "XTIVREG2: Stata module to perform extended IV/2SLS, GMM and AC/HAC, LIML and k-class regression for panel data models," Statistical Software Components S456501, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 22 Feb 2015.
    11. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-92-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 2004. "Agricultural Productivity Growth, Rural Economic Diversity, and Economic Reforms: India, 1970-2000," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 509-542, April.
    13. Matsuyama, Kiminori, 1992. "Agricultural productivity, comparative advantage, and economic growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 317-334, December.
    14. Gaurav Datt & Martin Ravallion, 1998. "Farm productivity and rural poverty in India," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(4), pages 62-85.
    15. Frank Ellis, 1998. "Household strategies and rural livelihood diversification," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 1-38.
    16. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "Land Reform, Poverty Reduction, and Growth: Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 389-430.
    18. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, March.
    19. Kathleen Beegle & Joachim De Weerdt & Stefan Dercon, 2011. "Migration and Economic Mobility in Tanzania: Evidence from a Tracking Survey," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 1010-1033, August.
    20. Robin Burgess & Rohini Pande, 2005. "Do Rural Banks Matter? Evidence from the Indian Social Banking Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 780-795, June.
    21. Raghbendra Jha & K.V. Bhanu Murthy & Anurag Sharma, 2005. "Market Integration in Wholesale Rice Markets in India," ASARC Working Papers 2005-03, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.
    22. Marcel Fafchamps & Forhad Shilpi, 2003. "The spatial division of labour in Nepal," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(6), pages 23-66.
    23. Glaeser, Edward L. & Scheinkman, JoseA. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1995. "Economic growth in a cross-section of cities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 117-143, August.
    24. Petia Topalova, 2007. "Trade Liberalization, Poverty and Inequality: Evidence from Indian Districts," NBER Chapters,in: Globalization and Poverty, pages 291-336 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Plantinga, Andrew J. & Lubowski, Ruben N. & Stavins, Robert N., 2002. "The effects of potential land development on agricultural land prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 561-581, November.
    26. Hasan, Rana & Mitra, Devashish & Ural, Beyza P., 2007. "Trade Liberalization, Labor-Market Institutions, and Poverty Reduction: Evidence from Indian States," India Policy Forum, National Council of Applied Economic Research, vol. 3(1), pages 71-122.
    27. Deichmann, Uwe & Shilpi, Forhad & Vakis, Renos, 2008. "Spatial specialization and farm-nonfarm linkages," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4611, The World Bank.
    28. Berdegue, Julio A. & Ramirez, Eduardo & Reardon, Thomas & Escobar, German, 2001. "Rural Nonfarm Employment and Incomes in Chile," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 411-425, March.
    29. Yoko Kijima & Lanjouw, Peter, 2003. "Poverty in India during the1990s - a regional perspective," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3141, The World Bank.
    30. Williamson,Jeffrey G., 1990. "Coping with City Growth during the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521364805, March.
    31. Marcel Fafchamps & Forhad Shilpi, 2005. "Cities and Specialisation: Evidence from South Asia," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(503), pages 477-504, April.
    32. Jacoby, Hanan C, 2000. "Access to Markets and the Benefits of Rural Roads," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(465), pages 713-737, July.
    33. Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, 2015. "Economic Impossibilities For Our Grandchildren?," Economics Series Working Papers 139, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    34. Kochar, Anjini, 2004. "Urban influences on rural schooling in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 113-136, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Joachim Vandercasteelen & Seneshaw Tamru & Bart Minten & Johan Swinnen, 2016. "Cities and Agricultural Transformation in Africa: Evidence from Ethiopia," LICOS Discussion Papers 37416, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    2. Mohamed El Hedi Arouri & Adel Ben Youssef & Cuong Nguyen-Viet & Agnès Soucat, 2014. "Effects of urbanization on economic growth and human capital formation in Africa," Working Papers halshs-01068271, HAL.
    3. S. Chandrasekhar & Mousumi Das & Ajay Sharma, 2015. "Short-term Migration and Consumption Expenditure of Households in Rural India," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 105-122, March.
    4. Juan Mauricio Ramírez & Juan Guillermo Bedoya & Yadira Díaz, 2016. "Geografía económica, descentralización y pobreza multidimensional en Colombia," CUADERNOS DE FEDESARROLLO 014443, FEDESARROLLO.
    5. Ejaz Ghani & Arti Grover Goswami & William R. Kerr, 2012. "Is India’s Manufacturing Sector Moving Away From Cities?," Harvard Business School Working Papers 12-090, Harvard Business School.
    6. Higashikata, Takayuki & Hashiguchi, Yoshihiro, 2017. "The causal effect of urbanization on rural poverty reduction: quasi-experimental evidence using Indonesian urban area data," IDE Discussion Papers 673, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    7. Arouri, Mohamed & Ben Youssef, Adel & Nguyen, Cuong, 2017. "Does urbanization reduce rural poverty? Evidence from Vietnam," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 253-270.
    8. Joachim Vandercasteelen & Seneshaw Tamru & Bart Minten & Johan Swinnen, 2017. "Secondary towns, agricultural prices, and intensification: Evidence from Ethiopia," LICOS Discussion Papers 39317, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    9. Christiaensen, Luc & Todo, Yasuyuki, 2014. "Poverty Reduction During the Rural–Urban Transformation – The Role of the Missing Middle," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 43-58.
    10. Das, Samarjit & Ghate, Chetan & Robertson, Peter E., 2015. "Remoteness, Urbanization, and India’s Unbalanced Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 572-587.
    11. Nguyen, Cuong, 2012. "Does Urbanization Help Poverty Reduction in Rural Areas?Evidence from a Developing Country," MPRA Paper 48660, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Srivastava, Govind & Kathuria, Vinish, 2014. "Utility reforms in developing countries: Learning from the experiences of Delhi," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 1-16.
    13. Imai, Katsushi S. & Gaiha, Raghav & Garbero, Alessandra, 2017. "Poverty reduction during the rural–urban transformation: Rural development is still more important than urbanisation," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 963-982.
    14. Luc Christiaensen & Joachim Weerdt & Yasuyuki Todo, 2013. "Urbanization and poverty reduction: the role of rural diversification and secondary towns," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 44(4-5), pages 435-447, July.
    15. Juan Mauricio Ramírez & Yadira Díaz & Juan Guillermo Bedoya, 2014. "Decentralization in Colombia: searching for social equity in a bumpy economic geography," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 011557, FEDESARROLLO.
    16. Koshy, Abraham & Narayanan, Priya, 2017. "A Study of the Evolution of Nature and Narration of Brands in an Emerging Market," IIMA Working Papers WP 2017-05-01, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
    17. Juan Mauricio Ramírez & Juan Guillermo Bedoya & Yadira Díaz, 2014. "Convergencia social en Colombia: el rol de la geografía económica y de la descentralización," INFORMES DE INVESTIGACIÓN 012499, FEDESARROLLO.
    18. repec:spr:jsecdv:v:19:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s40847-017-0038-y is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:27:y:2013:i:2:p:171-201. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.