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Castes and Labor Mobility

  • Hnatkovska, Viktoria
  • Lahiri, Amartya
  • Paul, Sourabh Bikash

How have the poorest sections of society in India responded to the rapid changes in the Indian economy over the past 30 years? We examine this question by contrasting the fortunes of the historically disadvantaged scheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST) in India with the rest of the workforce in terms of their education attainment, occupation choices and wages. We study the period 1983-2005 using household survey data from successive rounds of the National Sample Survey. Our key findings are that education attainment rates and wages have been converging across the two groups while SC/STs have also been switching occupations at increasing rates during this period. Moreover, inter-generational education and income mobility rates of SC/STs have converged to non-SC/ST levels. Clearly, the last twenty years of major structural changes in India have seen a sharp improvement in the relative economic fortunes of these historically disadvantaged social groups. In fact, the median wages of SC/STs relative to non-SC/STs in India have surpassed the median wages of blacks relative to whites in the USA.

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File URL: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/vhnatkovska/Research/castes.pdf
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Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series Economics working papers with number viktoria_hnatkovska-2010-25.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 02 Sep 2010
Date of revision: 22 Oct 2010
Handle: RePEc:ubc:bricol:viktoria_hnatkovska-2010-25
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.economics.ubc.ca/

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  1. Vani K. Borooah, 2005. "Caste, Inequality, and Poverty in India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 399-414, 08.
  2. Banerjee, Biswajit & Knight, J. B., 1985. "Caste discrimination in the Indian urban labour market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 277-307, April.
  3. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, . "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 84-10, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. Takahiro Ito, 2007. "Caste Discrimination and Transaction Costs in the Labor Market: Evidence from Rural North India," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d06-200, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  5. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2006. "Traditional Institutions Meet the Modern World: Caste, Gender, and Schooling Choice in a Globalizing Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1225-1252, September.
  6. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-64, June.
  7. Kaivan Munshi, 2011. "Strength in Numbers: Networks as a Solution to Occupational Traps," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 1069-1101.
  8. Stanislav Kolenikov, 2010. "Resampling variance estimation for complex survey data," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 10(2), pages 165-199, June.
  9. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
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