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Caste Dominance and Economic Performance in Rural India

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  • Vegard Iversen
  • Adriaan Kalwij
  • Arjan Verschoor
  • Amaresh Dubey

Abstract

Using household panel data for rural India covering 1993-94 and 2004-5, we test whether scheduled castes (SCs) and other minority groups perform better or worse in terms of income when resident in villages dominated by (i) upper castes or (ii) their own group. Theoretically, upper-caste dominance comprises a potential "proximity gain" and offsetting group-specific "oppression" effects. For SCs and other backward classes (OBCs), initial proximity gains dominate negative oppression effects because upper-caste-dominated villages are located in more productive areas: once agroecology is controlled for, proximity and oppression effects cancel each other out. Although the effects are theoretically ambiguous, we find large, positive own-dominance or enclave effects for upper castes, OBCs, and especially SCs. These village regime effects are restricted to the Hindu social groups. Combining pathway and income source analysis, we close in on the mechanisms underpinning identity-based income disparities; while education matters, landownership accounts for most enclave effects. A strong postreform SC own-village advantage turns out to have agricultural rather than nonfarm or business origins. We also find upper-caste dominance to inhibit the educational progress of other social groups, along with negative enclave effects on the educational progress of Muslim women and scheduled tribe men.

Suggested Citation

  • Vegard Iversen & Adriaan Kalwij & Arjan Verschoor & Amaresh Dubey, 2014. "Caste Dominance and Economic Performance in Rural India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(3), pages 423-457.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/675388
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    1. repec:pal:eurjdr:v:29:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1057_s41287-016-0011-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ira N. Gang & Kunal Sen & Myeong-Su Yun, 2017. "Is Caste Destiny? Occupational Diversification among Dalits in Rural India," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 29(2), pages 476-492, April.
    3. Bert Van Landeghem & Anneleen Vandeplas, 2016. "Lower in Rank, but Happier: The Complex Relationship between Status and Happiness," Working Papers id:11441, eSocialSciences.
    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. Mahadevan, Renuka & Suardi, Sandy, 2013. "Is there a role for caste and religion in food security policy? A look at rural India," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 58-69.

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