Inequality among the rural poor: A tale of two cities in India and Vietnam
Using the Survey of Living Conditions in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar of India and the second round of the Vietnam Living Standards Survey, this paper examines whether and to what extent rural consumption inequality of the poor differs in the two countries. While these two countries have experienced significant growth since the early 1990s, they have different institutional arrangements. As a result, the reforms that they have undertaken could have different impact on the poor. The Shapley decomposition results suggest that not only is average consumption expenditure per capita higher in rural Vietnam than in rural India, but also the distribution is more equitable. Land ownership and education structure are found to be the most important contributing factors of consumption inequality for the rural poor. However, the importance of these contributing factors differs. Land ownership (age structure) turns out to be the most important factor for India (Vietnam). Education is an important factor common to the poor in both countries. Policies to ensure more equal access to land and education hold the key to address consumption inequality for the poor.
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