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Is India Better off Today than 15 Years ago? A Robust Multidimensional Answer

This paper provides a robust normative evaluation of the spectacular growth episode that India has experienced in the last 15 years. Specifically, the paper compares the evolution, between 1998, 1996 and 2001 of the distribution of several important individual attributes on the basis of ethically robust dominance criteria. The individual attributes considered are real consumptions (measured at the individual level), literacy rate, infant mortality and violent crime rates (all measured at the district levels). District level variables are interpreted as (local) public goods which, along with consumption, are assumed to contribute to individual well being. The robust criteria used are generalizations, to more than two attributes, of the first and the second order dominance criteria of Atkinson and Bourguignon (1982) and are known to correspond to the unanimity of utilitarian value judgements taken over a specific class of individual utility functions. The main result of the empirical analysis is that all utilitarian rankings of distributions of the four attributes who assume that individual utility functions satisfy the assumptions of second order dominance agree that India is better off in 2002 than in 1996. Furthermore, if one removes crime from the list of attributes, the dominance is shown to apply steadily over the whole period and to be of first order on the period 1988-1996.

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Paper provided by Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France in its series IDEP Working Papers with number 0704.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: 18 May 2007
Date of revision: 18 May 2007
Handle: RePEc:iep:wpidep:0704
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  1. Jean-Yves Duclos & David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2006. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 943-968, October.
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  8. Russell Davidson & Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1435-1464, November.
  9. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931.
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  13. d'ASPREMONT, Claude & GEVERS, Louis, . "Equity and the informational basis of collective choice," CORE Discussion Papers RP 350, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  17. Fleurbaey, Marc & Hagnere, Cyrille & Trannoy, Alain, 2003. "Welfare comparisons with bounded equivalence scales," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 309-336, June.
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