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Castes and Labor Mobility

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hnatkovska, Viktoria & Lahiri, Amartya & Paul, Sourabh Bikash, 2010. "Castes and Labor Mobility," Economics working papers viktoria_hnatkovska-2010-, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Oct 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:ubc:bricol:viktoria_hnatkovska-2010-25
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    File URL: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/vhnatkovska/Research/castes.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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, August.
    2. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education, Third Edition, pages 257-298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
    6. Ito, Takahiro, 2009. "Caste discrimination and transaction costs in the labor market: Evidence from rural North India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 292-300, March.
    7. Kijima, Yoko, 2006. "Caste and Tribe Inequality: Evidence from India, 1983-1999," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 369-404, January.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intergenerational mobility; wage gaps; castes;

    JEL classification:

    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • R2 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis

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