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Earnings Inequality in India: Has the Rise of Caste and Religion Based Politics in India had an Impact?

  • Sumon Kumar Bhaumik


  • Manisha Chakrabarty

Since 1989, there has been a sharp increase in the role of caste and religion in determining political fortunes at both state and federal levels in India. As a consequence, significant intercaste and inter-religion differences in earnings have the potential to stall the process of economic reforms. Yet, the patterns and determinants of such differences remain unexplored. We address this lacuna in the literature, and explore the determinants of the differences in inter-caste and inter-religion earnings in India during the 1987-99 period, using the 43rd and 55th rounds of National Sample Survey (NSS). Our results suggest that (a) earnings differences between “upper” castes and SC/ST have declined between 1987 and 1999, (b) over the same period, earnings differences between Muslims and non-Muslims have increased, to the detriment of the former, and (c) inter-caste and inter-religion differences in earnings can be explained largely by corresponding differences in educational endowment and returns on age (and, hence, experience). However, differences in returns on education do not explain inter-caste and interreligion earnings differences to a great extent.

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Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number 819.

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Length: pages
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2006-819
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  1. Angus Deaton & Jean Dreze, 2002. "Poverty and Inequality in India: A Re-Examination," Working Papers 184, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
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