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Measuring Regional Backwardness: Poverty, Gender, and Children in the Districts of India


  • Borooah, Vani
  • Dubey, Amaresh


This paper examines regional disparity in India from the perspective of the smallest geographical unit for which a consisent set of data is available: the district. By doing so, we are able to focus on pockets of deprivation rather than viewing deprivation as a phenomenon affecting a state or a region in its entirety: ‘forward’ states have deprived districts while ‘backward’ states have districts that are not deprived. Consistent with the United Nations’ Human Development Index, the paper examines deprivation from a broader perspective than that of simply income. More specifi cally, it looks at six indicators of district-level deprivation: the poverty rate; the food scarcity rate; the (gender-sensitive) literacy rate; the infant mortality rate; the immunisation rate; and the sex ratio for 0–6 year olds. The central conclusion that emerges from this study is that different districts were ‘most backward’ on different metrics. Districts in Orissa were the poorest; districts in Arunchal Pradesh had the highest rates of food scarcity; districts in Bihar and Jharkhand had the lowest rates of literacy; tribal districts in the North-East, along with districts in Bihar and Jharkhand, had the lowest rates of immunisation; districts in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had the highest rates of infant mortality; and districts in Punjab and Haryana had the lowest (0–6 years) sex ratios.

Suggested Citation

  • Borooah, Vani & Dubey, Amaresh, 2007. "Measuring Regional Backwardness: Poverty, Gender, and Children in the Districts of India," MPRA Paper 19426, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19426

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sylvie Démurger & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Wing Thye Woo & Shuming Bao & Gene Chang & Andrew Mellinger, 2002. "Geography, Economic Policy, and Regional Development in China," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 146-197.
    2. Cowell, Frank A & Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "How Much Inequality Can We Explain? A Methodology and an Application to the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 421-430, March.
    3. Cai, Fang & Wang, Dewen & Du, Yang, 2002. "Regional disparity and economic growth in China: The impact of labor market distortions," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(2-3), pages 197-212.
    4. Shorrocks, A F, 1982. "Inequality Decomposition by Factor Components," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 193-211, January.
    5. Bao, Shuming & Chang, Gene Hsin & Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Woo, Wing Thye, 2002. "Geographic factors and China's regional development under market reforms, 1978-1998," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 89-111.
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    1. Bare facts (Maoist edition)
      by Pragmatic in Pragmatic Euphony on 2011-05-25 20:41:37


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    Cited by:

    1. Aswini Kumar Mishra & Atasi Kar, 2017. "Are Targeted Unconditional Cash Transfers Effective? Evidence from a Poor Region in India," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(2), pages 819-843, January.

    More about this item


    India; Districts; Backwardness;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty


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