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Group Identity, Productivity and Well-being Policy Implications for Promoting Development


  • Kaushik Basu


The role of a person's group identity and sense of integration into society as a determinant of the person's productivity and capability has been vastly underestimated in the literature. We talk of policies to subsidize the poor and give direct support to alleviate poverty. These are important but, in the long run, it is critical that we instill in people a sense of belonging and having certain basic rights as citizens. This paper tries to advance this perspective by building a new model where a person's community identity matters, ex post , in determining whether he or she will be poor, even though all persons are identical ex ante . The paper also draws on data collected from a non-governmental organization-run school in Kolkata to illustrate the role of a school child's sense of 'belonging' in determining how the child performs academically. The theory and the empirical work are inputs into the larger and more general idea that when people feel marginalized in a society they tend to 'give up'. A substantial part of the paper is devoted to the policy implications of these analytical ideas and empirical results in the context of policy-making.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaushik Basu, 2013. "Group Identity, Productivity and Well-being Policy Implications for Promoting Development," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 323-340, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jhudca:v:14:y:2013:i:3:p:323-340
    DOI: 10.1080/19452829.2013.764854

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roland G. Fryer & Matthew O. Jackson, 2002. "Categorical Cognition: A Psychological Model of Categories and Identification in Decision Making," Microeconomics 0211002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kim Samuel, Sabina Alkire, John Hammock, China Mills and Diego Zavaleta, 2014. "Social Isolation and its Relationship to Multidimensional Poverty," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp080, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    2. Diego Zavaleta, Kim Samuel and China Mills, 2014. "Social Isolation: A conceptual and Measurement Proposal," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp067, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.

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