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Has India's economic growth become more pro-poor in the wake of economic reforms ?


  • Datt, Gaurav
  • Ravallion, Martin


The extent to which India's poor have benefited from the country’s economic growth has long been debated. This paper revisits the issues using a new series of consumption-based poverty measures spanning 50 years, and including a 15-year period after economic reforms began in earnest in the early 1990s. Growth has tended to reduce poverty, including in the post-reform period. There is no robust evidence that the responsiveness of poverty to growth has increased, or decreased, since the reforms began, although there are signs of rising inequality. The impact of growth is higher for poverty measures that reflect distribution below the poverty line, and it is higher using growth rates calculated from household surveys than national accounts. The urban-rural pattern of growth matters to the pace of poverty reduction. However, in marked contrast to the pre-reform period, the post-reform process of urban economic growth has brought significant gains to the rural poor as well as the urban poor.

Suggested Citation

  • Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 2009. "Has India's economic growth become more pro-poor in the wake of economic reforms ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5103, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5103

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    Cited by:

    1. Arias-Vazquez, Francisco Javier & Lee, Jean Nahrae & Newhouse, David, 2012. "The Role of Sectoral Growth Patterns in Labor Market Development," IZA Discussion Papers 6926, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Dhongde, Shatakshee, 2017. "Measuring Segregation of the Poor: Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 111-123.
    3. Ural Marchand, Beyza, 2012. "Tariff pass-through and the distributional effects of trade liberalization," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 265-281.
    4. Sen Gupta, Abhijit & Hasan, Rana & Lamba, Sneha, 2014. "Growth, Structural Change, and Poverty Reduction: Evidence from India," MPRA Paper 55247, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Vito Peragine & Flaviana Palmisano & Paolo Brunori, 2014. "Economic Growth and Equality of Opportunity," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(2), pages 247-281.
    6. Sırma Şeker & Stephen Jenkins, 2015. "Poverty trends in Turkey," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 13(3), pages 401-424, September.
    7. repec:eee:wdevel:v:97:y:2017:i:c:p:102-121 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Tripathi, Sabyasachi, 2013. "Has urban economic growth in Post-Reform India been pro-poor between 1993-94 and 2009-10?," MPRA Paper 52336, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. repec:eee:wdevel:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:413-429 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Shutes, Lindsay & Ganesh-Kumar, Anand & Meijerink, Gerdien W., 2012. "Fluctuating staple prices and household poverty in India," MPRA Paper 40982, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. World Bank, 2002. "India : Power Sector Reform and the Poor," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15286, The World Bank.
    12. Ingvild Almås & Anders Kjelsrud, 2016. "Pro-poor Price Trends and Inequality - The Case of India," CESifo Working Paper Series 5740, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. repec:eee:joecag:v:4:y:2014:i:c:p:26-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. World Bank, 2003. "India : Sustaining Reform, Reducing Poverty," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14617, The World Bank.
    15. Shafiq, M. Najeeb, 2015. "Aspects of Moral Change in India, 1990–2006: Evidence from Public Attitudes toward Tax Evasion and Bribery," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 136-148.
    16. World Bank, "undated". "Africa's Pulse, April 2013 : An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa's Economic Future," World Bank Other Operational Studies 20238, The World Bank.
    17. Baruah, Joydeep, 2012. "Inclusive Growth under India's Neo-liberal Regime: Towards an Exposition," MPRA Paper 47248, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Joshua AIZENMAN & Minsoo LEE & Donghyun PARK, 2012. "The Relationship between Structural Change and Inequality: A Conceptual Overview with Special Reference to Developing Asia," Working Papers DP-2012-13, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    19. Dang,Hai-Anh H. & Lanjouw,Peter F., 2015. "Toward a new definition of shared prosperity: a dynamic perspective from three countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7294, The World Bank.
    20. Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Looking Beyond Averages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1803-1815, November.
    21. World Bank Group, 2015. "Sudan Country Economic Memorandum," World Bank Other Operational Studies 25262, The World Bank.
    22. Gibson, John & Datt, Gaurav & Murgai, Rinku & Ravallion, Martin, 2017. "For India’s Rural Poor, Growing Towns Matter More Than Growing Cities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 413-429.
    23. Stephen D. O'Connell, 2014. "Political Inclusion and Educational Investment," Working Papers 4, City University of New York Graduate Center, Ph.D. Program in Economics, revised 15 Jul 2015.

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    Rural Poverty Reduction; Achieving Shared Growth; Services&Transfers to Poor; Inequality;

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