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Many Rivers to Cross: Social Identity, Cognition, and Labor Mobility in Rural India

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  • Sébastien Michiels
  • Christophe Jalil Nordman
  • Suneha Seetahul

Abstract

This study analyzes whether individual skills and personality traits facilitate labor market mobility of disadvantaged groups and rural migrants. We use a panel dataset of individuals in rural South India to explore the relationship between individual cognitive skills, personality traits, and income mobility. We take advantage of intragroup heterogeneity in terms of cognitive skills and personality traits to examine whether these personal characteristics enable individuals to overcome rigid social structures, exploring the role of these skills and traits in migrants’ income mobility. We show that despite strong rigidity in the area’s labor market structure, personality traits are important determinants of labor mobility, enabling individuals to overcome caste and gender discrimination, but that these personality traits do not contribute to increases in migrants’ income mobility.

Suggested Citation

  • Sébastien Michiels & Christophe Jalil Nordman & Suneha Seetahul, 2021. "Many Rivers to Cross: Social Identity, Cognition, and Labor Mobility in Rural India," The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, , vol. 697(1), pages 66-80, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:anname:v:697:y:2021:i:1:p:66-80
    DOI: 10.1177/00027162211055990
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    income mobility; cognitive skills; personality; Tamil Nadu; India;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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