Poverty Among Social and Economic Groups In India in the Nineteen Nineties
This paper examines the levels and changes in poverty indicators of the rural and urban population in India disaggregated by social and economic groups. The analysis is based on the comparable estimates of poverty on the mixed reference period computed from the unit record data for the 50 th (1993-94) and the 55 th (1999-2000) rounds of the Consumer Expenditure Surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation. The issue is how far different social and economic groups shared the overall decline in poverty in the 1990s. Four poverty indicators are considered, namely, headcount ratio,the depth and severity measures (PGI and FGT*) as also the absolute size of the poor population. The social groups most vulnerable to poverty have been identified to be the scheduled caste households and the scheduled tribe households with both these groups having above average levels of poverty indicators in the rural and the urban population.Among the economic groups, the most vulnerable groups are the agricultural labour households (rural) and the casual labour households (urban) each having the highestlevels of the poverty indicators in their respective population segments. In terms of changes in poverty in the 1990s, it is found that while the scheduled caste and the agricultural labour (rural) and the casual labour (urban) households experienced declines in poverty on par with the total population, the scheduled tribe households fared badly in both the segments. A further disaggregated analysis brings out the consequences for poverty of combined social and economic vulnerabilities. The paper also presents poverty indicators adjusted for between-(economic and social) group disparity and discusses the implications of the empirical results for the design of a strategy for poverty reduction.
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