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Keeping Up with the Vaishyas: Caste and Relative Standing

  • Carlsson, Fredrik

    ()

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

  • Gupta, Gautam

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Jadavpur University)

  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof

    ()

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

We investigate the importance of relative income within the Indian Caste system, using a choice experiment. We find that slightly more than half of the marginal utility of income comes from some kind of relative income effects, on average, which is comparable to the results from previous studies in other countries. Belonging to a low caste and having a low family income are associated with higher concern for relative income. Moreover, an increase in the mean income of the caste to which the individual belongs, everything else held constant, reduces utility for the individual. Thus, the negative welfare effect of reduced relative income compared to the average own caste income dominates the positive welfare effect of increased relative income of the own caste relative to other castes.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2748
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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 171.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 17 Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0171
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/

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  1. Markus Knell, 1999. "Social Comparisons, Inequality, and Growth," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(4), pages 664-, December.
  2. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Akerlof, George A, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of Which Unemployment May be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-75, June.
  5. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  6. Gunnar Köhlin & Peter J. Parks, 2001. "Spatial Variability and Disincentives to Harvest: Deforestation and Fuelwood Collection in South Asia," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 77(2), pages 206-218.
  7. Hoff, Karla & Pandey, Priyanka, 2004. "Belief systems and durable inequalities : an experimental investigation of Indian caste," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3351, The World Bank.
  8. Siwan Anderson, 2003. "Why Dowry Payments Declined with Modernization in Europe but Are Rising in India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(2), pages 269-310, April.
  9. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  11. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "How Much Do We Care About Absolute Versus Relative Income and Consumption?," Working Papers in Economics 63, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  12. Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2003. "Do You Enjoy Having More Than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Working Papers in Economics 100, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  13. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Ashwini Deshpande, 2000. "Does Caste Still Define Disparity? A Look at Inequality in Kerala, India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 322-325, May.
  15. Alonso-Carrera, Jaime & Caballe, Jordi & Raurich, Xavier, 2005. "Growth, habit formation, and catching-up with the Joneses," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1665-1691, August.
  16. Borooah, Vani K., 2004. "The politics of demography: a study of inter-community fertility differences in India," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 551-578, September.
  17. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
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  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521788304 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  21. Akerlof, George A, 1976. "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-617, November.
  22. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2004. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Working Papers in Economics 141, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  23. Robert H. Frank, 2005. "Positional Externalities Cause Large and Preventable Welfare Losses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 137-141, May.
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