68 research outputs found

    The Demand for Disadvantage

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    Disadvantage is a popular and controversial word in India these days. In October 2007, half a million Gujars, traditionally a pastoral community of north and central India, filled the streets of several towns in the Indian state of Rajasthan demanding that they be classified by their state government as disadvantaged. The Gujars wish to be listed as Scheduled Tribes, and thereby receive greater parliamentary representation, preferential treatment in public employment and lower admissions standards in many educational institutions.1 Yet, ethnographers have cast doubt on their aboriginal descent, they share customs with other groups in the middle of the social ladder,2 and a current web site hosted by members of the Gujar community refers to the group as “a proud people” with “the desire and ability to rule the world”3. The case of the Gujars illustrates, oddly but powerfully, the ways in which culture and politics mingle to shape acceptable notions of social justice and government policy in democracies. In a poor, growing economy with academic costs well below the market value of educational training, the tag of disadvantage has come to acquire value and, ironically, the desire for mobility has brought about a demand to be classified as disadvantaged. It is this demand that I would like to reflect upon here- its cultural roots, its social rationale, the political mechanisms through which it is expressed and some of the economic implications of the policies that it has generated.Shapley value, potential, consistency, games in partition function form.Goup-based policies of preferential treatment began under British rule in the first half of the twentieth century. After political independence in 1947, the Indian constitution converting some of these policies into rights, facilitated the expansion of state-led affirmative action. The constitution was unusual in that it juxtaposed provisions for the equality of all citizens before the law with those that mandated the proportional political representation of specific groups and allowed the state to make special concessions for their advancement. In the decades that followed, these provisions did dilute the dominance of the traditionally elite in political and social life but also generated caste-based contests for the rents from public office and the gains from spending on public goods. Mandated political representation and other types of affirmative action changed the balance of power but also created new types of inequalities within the set of targeted communities. Demographic data from the census, public employment and college admission records, and studies of electoral outcomes all suggest that the minimally disadvantaged and the numerically strong communities benefitted more than the others. The constitutional space given to affirmative action was initially valuable because it encouraged the state to acknowledge its responsibility towards the socially marginalized. Over time however, it has created a peculiar discourse of social justice and development in India in which individual advancement is linked to group mobility and groups move forward by claiming that they have been left behind. In the process, the state has neglected less controversial and more fundamental rights such as the universal access to primary and secondary education that may have done more for larger numbers of truly disadvantaged communities. Section 2 describes the constitutional basis for affirmative action policies in India and provides a brief history of these policies. Section 3 presents secondary evidence on the characteristics of beneficiaries and the distribution of benefits. It also documents the inequality in educational attainment that emerged within the set of communities that were targeted as recipient of affirmative action over the 1931-1991 period. I conclude in Section 4 with reflections on the divergence between the intended and actual effects of affirmative action in India.

    The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India

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    This paper examines how public goods get allocated by a centralized state. We use data on social structure and public goods in rural India over the sixties, seventies and eighties to examine the influence of particular social groups, and of social and economic heterogeneity more generally, on the availability of public goods. This was a period of rapid expansion in these goods and of important shifts in the political leverage enjoyed by different groups. We find that social divisions are important, but so are the relative positions of particular goups in the broader social hierarchy. These divisions are not however immutable, nor is their influence overwhelming. Some previously marginalized communities have gained over this period while others continue to be disadvantaged. There has also been considerable convergence in the availability of public goods over this period, suggesting that the state feels some compulsion to equalize access, even to those who are not politically influential.

    Racial Income Disparities and the Measurement of Segregation

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    Racial segregation in residential patterns remains pervasive in the United States. This persistence is usually attributed to some combination of neighborhood preferences over racial composition, discrimination in real estate and credit markets, and the effects of racial disparities in income. We propose a method for the decomposition of segregation measures into two components. One of these can be interpreted as the component of segregation that can be attributed to the effect of racial income disparities alone, while the other captures the combined effect of neighborhood preferences and discrimination. Applying the method to thirty major metropolitan areas, we find that the role played by racial income disparities in accounting for segregation is generally modest but varies significantly across cities.Residential Segregation, Racial Income Disparities, Index of Dissimilarity

    Poverty targeting in public programs: A comparison of alternative nonparametric methods

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    Very poor households may be excluded from public programs intended for their benefit for a variety of reasons as lack information, a permanent residence or membershiip in social networks. We are interested in methods of testing for such exclusion based on independently drawn samples of program participants and non-participants. We discuss three alternative nonparametric procedures; sign tests, tests for stochastic dominance and a test for distribution crossing. In the cases where there is a poverty threshold below which program participation is difficult, our simulation results suggests that the last of these test procedures is the most powrful. we apply this test to data from a microfinance program in India and find evidence that the poorest households in the area were largely outside the program.

    Inequality and Segregation

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    This paper explores the manner in which race and income interact to determine patterns of residential location in metropolitan areas. We use a framework in which individuals care about both the level of affluence and the racial composition of their communities, and in which there are differences in income both within and between groups. Three main findings emerge. First, conditional on income, black households experience lower neighborhood quality relative to whites at any stable equilibrium. Second, extreme levels of segregation can be stable when racial income disparities are either large or negligible, but unstable in some intermediate range. Third, there exist multiple stable equilibria with very different levels of segregation when racial income disparities are sufficiently small. These results hold even when preferences are pro-integrationist, in the sense that racially mixed neighborhoods within a certain range are strictly preferred by all households to homogenous neighborhoods of either type.Race, Inequality, Segregation

    Quantifying spatial misallocaton in centrally provided public goods

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    We show how an optimization algorithm can be used to approximately quantify the costs to users of spatial misallocation in centrally provided goods.These methods can be employed to evaluate the large programs of public good construction that have been central features of economic plans in many developing countries. We apply these methods to the allocation of post-offices in an administrative block of South India between 1981-1991 and find that more appropriate choices for post office locations could have reduced aggregate costs of travel to citizens in this area by at least 20.

    Inequality and segregation

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    This paper explores the manner in which race and income interact to determine patterns of residential location in metropolitan areas. We use a framework in which individuals care about both the level of affluence and the racial composition of their communities, and in which there are differences in income both within and between groups. Three main findings emerge. First, conditional on income, black households experience lower neighborhood quality relative to whites at any stable equilibrium. Second, extreme levels of segregation can be stable when racial income disparities are either large or negligible, but unstable in some intermediate range. Third, there exist multiple stable equilibria with very different levels of segregation when racial income disparities are sufficiently small. These results hold even when preferences are pro-integrationist, in the sense that racially mixed neighborhoods within a certain range are strictly preferred by all households to homogenous neighborhoods of either type.

    Identifying targeting with nonparametric methods: An application to an Indian microfinance program

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    We discuss nonparametric methods and statistical tests that are appropriate to assess poverty targeting in public programs. These methods explicitly account for the possibility that the population distributions of participants and non-participants cross. Crossing points provide us with upper bounds on the income of those who have been excluded from the program. Applying these methods to data from a microfinance program in the state of Jharkhand in India, we find evidence that very poorest households are largely excluded from the program.

    MAPPING INDIAN DISTRICTS ACROSS CENSUS YEARS, 1971-2001

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    The Indian states have been the standard unit of analysis for research on India that uses official data sources. For many empirical questions, states are a natural starting point because state governments set political agendas and budgets and administer a wide range of services. In addition, the boundaries of many states have been unchanged for over half a century and those of all major states were largely unchanged between 1971 and 2000. This stability has resulted in the relatively easy construction and use of panel data sets at the state level and these data have been used to ask a variety of questions relating to the e ectiveness of public policy. The use of more disaggregated district data allows the study of outcomes across regions with similar historical contexts and political regimes. States have an average of 20 districts, so district level panels can also be much larger. Most district-level studies however have relied on cross-sectional analysis because district comparisons over time are complicated by multiple boundary changes. Between 1971 and 2001, the number of districts increased from 356 to 593, a rise of about 67%. The purpose of this paper is to provide information on boundary changes across districts that will facilitate the construction of district-level panel data sets. We use population data from the state and central volumes of the Census of India to document changes in district boundaries between 1971 and 2001. For each decade during the 1971-2001 pe- riod, we classify districts into three categories: those with unchanged boundaries, those created by partitioning existing districts and nally, districts whose current boundaries were located in multiple districts at the time of the previous census. We nd that 136 of the 356 Indian dis- tricts in 1971 (38%) were una ected by boundary changes over the subsequent three decades, 79 districts (22%) were cleanly partitioned into multiple districts over the same period, and the 1 remaining 141 districts experienced more complex changes. Unchanged districts obviously pose no problem for the construction of panel data and the number of these districts can be quite large for short panels. For partitioned districts we provide population weights that permit the construction of panels using boundaries of either later or earlier census years as the base. For districts that are neither unchanged nor partitioned it is in general only possible to generate accurate population weights across adjacent census years. We provide these weights separately for the three periods: 1971-1981, 1981-1991, and 1991-2001. In addition, we amalgamate neigh- bouring districts into composite regions with unchanged boundaries between each census year and 2001. These composite regions, along with the unchanged and partitioned districts, give us the complete set of geographical units with unchanged boundaries between any census year and 2001. The following section provides details on data sources and our methods and compares these to those used by other studies relying on multi-year district data. Section 3 summarises some basic patterns. Section 4 concludes with some caveats on using our data and points to the type of work needed to construct district-level series over long time periods.

    Poverty targeting in public programs: A comparison of some nonparametric tests and their application to Indian microfinance.

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    Many popular social programs have limited coverage among households at the very bottom of the income and wealth distribution. If a program reaches the poor, but neglects the destitute, the (pre-program) income distribution of participants and non-participants will cross. We are interested in the statis-tical methods that can be used to test for this particular pattern of program participation. Our numerical simulations suggest that recently developed tests for distribution crossing are powerful even when the two distributions under study are fairly similar and they can be usefully combined with more stan-dard quantile tests to characterize program participation among the very poor. We apply this approach to data on household expenditures and membership of micro-credit groups in India and find that participation among the poorest households in the study area was lower than that of slightly richer households.
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