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The evolution of poverty and inequality in Indian villages

Author

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  • Jayraman, Raji
  • Lanjouw, Peter

Abstract

The authors review longitudinal village studies from a variety of disciplinary perspectives to identify changes in living standards in rural India in recent decades. They scrutinize the main forces of economic changes--agricultural intensification, changes in land relations, and occupational diversification--to explain changes in level and distribution of living standards in rural communities. These forces of economic change appear to have offset or at least mitigated the pressure that growing populations can place on existing resources. But the decline in rural poverty has been slow and irregular at best. Nor is poverty reduction only a matter of economic development. For instance, the rural poor often attribute much of the improvement in their living conditions to reduced dependence on patrons. There are few reports in village studies of particularly effective government policies aimed at reducing poverty. The long-term poor still tend to be from the disadvantaged castes and to live in households that rely on income from agricultural labor. There is little evidence that inequalities within village communities have declined. In some cases improved material well-being of rural households has led to greater social stratification rather than less, with women and members of lower castes suffering the consequences. Such inequalities could limit how policy interventions or continued growth can reduce poverty further. Policymakers must ensure accountability to keep abuses--for example, the privileged classes directing all benefits tothemselves--to a minimum.

Suggested Citation

  • Jayraman, Raji & Lanjouw, Peter, 1998. "The evolution of poverty and inequality in Indian villages," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1870, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1870
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baland, Jean-Marie & Dreze, Jean & Leruth, Luc, 1999. "Daily wages and piece rates in agrarian economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 445-461, August.
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    5. Lanjouw, Peter & Stern, Nicholas, 1998. "Economic Development in Palanpur over Five Decades," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288329.
    6. Arindam Banik, 1993. "Structure of the Credit Market and its link with the other Markets-An Analysis of Village Survey Data in Bangladesh," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 55-71, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Lanjouw & Rinku Murgai, 2009. "Poverty decline, agricultural wages, and nonfarm employment in rural India: 1983-2004," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 40(2), pages 243-263, March.
    2. Valbuena, Diego & Tui, Sabine Homann-Kee & Erenstein, Olaf & Teufel, Nils & Duncan, Alan & Abdoulaye, Tahirou & Swain, Braja & Mekonnen, Kindu & Germaine, Ibro & GĂ©rard, Bruno, 2015. "Identifying determinants, pressures and trade-offs of crop residue use in mixed smallholder farms in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 107-118.
    3. Estudillo, Jonna P. & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Income distribution in rice-growing villages during the post-Green Revolution periods: the Philippine case, 1985 and 1998," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 25(1), June.
    4. Kapur Mehta, Aasha & Shah, Amita, 2003. "Chronic Poverty in India: Incidence, Causes and Policies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 491-511, March.
    5. Das Gupta, Monica & Grandvoinnet, Helene & Romani, Mattia, 2000. "State-community synergies in development : laying the basis for collective action," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2439, The World Bank.
    6. Parker, Barbara & Kozel, Valerie, 2007. "Understanding Poverty and Vulnerability in India's Uttar Pradesh and Bihar: A Q-squared Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 296-311, February.
    7. Satish, P., 2007. "Rural Infrastructure and Growth: An Overview," Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, vol. 62(1).
    8. John Sender, 2000. "Struggles To Escape Poverty In South Africa: Results From A Purposive Rural Survey," Working Papers 107, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
    9. Peter Lanjouw & Abusaleh Shariff & Dil Bahadur Rahut, 2007. "Rural Non-Farm Employment in India: Access, Income, Farm, Poverty Impact," Working Papers id:913, eSocialSciences.
    10. Anirudh Krishna, 2005. "Poverty Knowledge and Poverty Action: Evidence from Three States in India," Working Papers id:274, eSocialSciences.
    11. V.K. Ramachandran & Madhura Swaminathan & Vikas Rawal, 2001. "How have hired workers fared? A case study of women workers from an Indian village, 1977 to 1999," Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum Working Papers 323, Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum, India.
    12. repec:eee:agiwat:v:191:y:2017:i:c:p:207-217 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Hentschel, Jesko, 1998. "Distinguishing between types of data and methods of collecting them," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1914, The World Bank.
    14. Krishna, Anirudh, 2004. "Escaping Poverty and Becoming Poor: Who Gains, Who Loses, and Why?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 121-136, January.

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