The Labor/Land Ratio and India’s Caste System
This paper proposes that India’s caste system and involuntary labor were joint responses by a nonworking landowning class to a low labor/land ratio in which the rules of the caste system supported the institution of involuntary labor. The hypothesis is tested in two ways: longitudinally, with data from ancient religious texts, and cross-sectionally, with twentieth-century statistics on regional population/land ratios linked to anthropological measures of caste-system rigidity. Both the longitudinal and cross-sectional evidence suggest that the labor/land ratio affected the caste system’s development, persistence, and rigidity over time and across regions of India.
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- Domar, Evsey D., 1970. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 18-32, March.
- Engerman, Stanley L., 1973. "Some Considerations Relating to Property Rights in Man," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(01), pages 43-65, March.
- David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
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