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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Gravel & Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, 2007. "Is India Better off Today than 15 Years ago? A Robust Multidimensional Answer," IDEP Working Papers 0704, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised 18 May 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:iep:wpidep:0704

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. LABAR, Kelly & BRESSON, Florent, 2011. "A multidimensional analysis of poverty in China from 1991 to 2006," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 646-668.
    2. Arndt, Channing & Distante, Roberta & Hussain, M. Azhar & Østerdal, Lars Peter & Huong, Pham Lan & Ibraimo, Maimuna, 2012. "Ordinal Welfare Comparisons with Multiple Discrete Indicators: A First Order Dominance Approach and Application to Child Poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(11), pages 2290-2301.
    3. Gottschalk, Tina & Range, Troels Martin & Sudhölter, Peter & Østerdal, Lars Peter, 2015. "Decomposing bivariate dominance for social welfare comparisons," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 12/2015, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    4. Christophe Muller & Asha Kannan & Roland Alcindor, 2016. "Multidimensional Poverty in Seychelles," AMSE Working Papers 1601, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised Jan 2016.
    5. Benoît Tarroux, 2012. "Are equalization payments making Canadians better off? A two-dimensional dominance answer," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(1), pages 19-44, March.
    6. Muller, Christophe & Trannoy, Alain, 2011. "A dominance approach to the appraisal of the distribution of well-being across countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3-4), pages 239-246, April.
    7. Channing Arndt & Kristi Mahrt & M. Azhar Hussain & Finn Tarp, 2017. "A human rights-consistent approach to multidimensional welfare measurement applied to sub-Saharan Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 076, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Christoffer Sonne-Schmidt & Finn Tarp & Lars Peter Østerdal, 2016. "Ordinal Bivariate Inequality: Concepts and Application to Child Deprivation in Mozambique," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62(3), pages 559-573, September.
    9. M. Azhar Hussain & Mette Møller Jørgensen & Lars Peter Østerdal, 2016. "Refining Population Health Comparisons: A Multidimensional First Order Dominance Approach," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 129(2), pages 739-759, November.
    10. Garcia-Diaz Rocio, 2013. "Poverty Orderings with Asymmetric Attributes," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 1-15, June.
    11. Damien Vaquier, 2010. "The Impact of Slum Resettlement on Urban Integration in Mumbai: The Case of the Chandivali Project," Working Papers id:2428, eSocialSciences.
    12. Sonne-Schmidt, Christoffer & Tarp, Finn & Peter, Lars, 2011. "Ordinal multidimensional inequality: theory and application to the 2x2 case," MPRA Paper 72838, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Nicolas Gravel & Benoît Tarroux, 2015. "Robust normative comparisons of socially risky situations," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 44(2), pages 257-282, February.
    14. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-36 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Damien Krichewsky, 2010. "Negotiating the Terms of A New Social Contract: Private Companies, Civil Society and the State in India," Working Papers id:2394, eSocialSciences.
    16. Sonne-Schmidt, Christoffer & Tarp, Finn & Østerdal, Lars Peter, 2013. "Ordinal Multidimensional Inequality," WIDER Working Paper Series 097, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    17. Channing Arndt & Nikolaj Siersbæk, & Lars Peter Østerdal, 2015. "Multidimensional first-order dominance comparisons of population wellbeing," WIDER Working Paper Series 122, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item


    Poverty; Welfare; Dominance; Multidimensional; Development; local public goods.;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure

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