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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
Contact details of provider: Postal: 2, rue de la Charité 13002 Marseille
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  1. Vincenzo DenicolÔ, 1999. "A characterization of utilitarianism without the transitivity axiom," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 273-278.
  2. M. Fleurbaey & C. Hagneré & A. Trannoy, 1998. "Welfare comparisons with bounded equivalence scales," THEMA Working Papers 98-23, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  3. Patrick Moyes & Nicolas Gravel, 2007. "Ethically robust comprisons of distributions of two individual attributes," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00389601, HAL.
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  5. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Sahn, David & Younger, Stephen D., 2001. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Cahiers de recherche 0115, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  6. Davidson, R. & Duclos, J.-Y., 1998. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 98a14, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  7. Russell Davidson & Jean-Yves Duclos, 2009. "Testing for restricted stochastic dominance," Working Papers halshs-00443560, HAL.
  8. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
  9. Lipton, Michael & Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Poverty and policy," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 41, pages 2551-2657 Elsevier.
  10. Yélé Maweki Batana & Jean-Yves Duclos, 2008. "Multidimensional Poverty Dominance: Statistical Inference and an Application to West Africa," Cahiers de recherche 0808, CIRPEE.
  11. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 2002. "Is India's economic growth leaving the poor behind?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2846, The World Bank.
  12. A. B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon, 1982. "The Comparison of Multi-Dimensioned Distributions of Economic Status," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(2), pages 183-201.
  13. Nicolas Gravel & Patrick Moyes & Beno�T Tarroux, 2009. "Robust International Comparisons of Distributions of Disposable Income and Regional Public Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(303), pages 432-461, 07.
  14. Dasgupta, Partha & Sen, Amartya & Starrett, David, 1973. "Notes on the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 180-187, April.
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  17. Serge-Christophe Kolm, 1977. "Multidimensional Egalitarianisms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-13.
  18. Kaur, Amarjot & Prakasa Rao, B.L.S. & Singh, Harshinder, 1994. "Testing for Second-Order Stochastic Dominance of Two Distributions," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(05), pages 849-866, December.
  19. Ian Crawford, 2005. "A nonparametric test of stochastic dominance in multivariate distributions," School of Economics Discussion Papers 1205, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
  20. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931, July.
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  24. Claude D'Aspremont & Louis Gevers, 1977. "Equity and the Informational Basis of Collective Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(2), pages 199-209.
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