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A Division of Laborers: Identity and Efficiency in India

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  • Guilhem Cassan
  • Daniel Keniston
  • Tatjana Kleineberg

Abstract

Workers’ social identity affects their occupation, and therefore the structure and prosperity of the aggregate economy. We estimate a general equilibrium Roy model of this phenomenon in the Indian caste system, where work and identity are particularly intertwined. New data on occupation, wages, and caste’s traditional occupations and social status show that workers are over-represented in their traditional occupations and under-represented in socially higher or lower occupations. We consider counterfactuals removing castes’ hierarchical and occupational links. Despite more efficient human capital allocation, aggregate output gains are small–in some counterfactuals negative–due to weaker caste networks and reduced learning across generations.

Suggested Citation

  • Guilhem Cassan & Daniel Keniston & Tatjana Kleineberg, 2021. "A Division of Laborers: Identity and Efficiency in India," NBER Working Papers 28462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28462
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    2. Suanna Oh, 2023. "Does Identity Affect Labor Supply?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 113(8), pages 2055-2083, August.
    3. Goraya, Sampreet Singh, 2023. "How does caste affect entrepreneurship? birth versus worth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 116-133.
    4. Bharathi, Naveen & Malghan, Deepak & Rahman, Andaleeb, 2023. "Ethnic diversity and economic development with spatial segregation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 222(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E71 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on the Macro Economy
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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