Tuesday, October 16, 2012

19 October 2012: On the colonial origins of agricultural development in India: A re-examination of Banerjee and Iyer,'History, institutions and economic performance'

Vegard Iversen
Jindal School of Public Policy and University
of Manchester

Banerjee and Iyer (henceforth, BI) (American Economic Review, 2005)
find that districts which the British assigned to landlord revenue
systems systematically underperform districts with non-landlord based
revenue systems, especially in agricultural investment and
productivity and mainly after the onset of the Green Revolution in the
mid-1960s. On this basis, BI claim there were long-lasting effects of
the institutions established in British India on a variety of
development outcomes after independence. We correct a miscoding of the
land revenue system in Central Provinces, which BI characterise as
mostly landlord based, when reliable historical evidence suggest that
this region should have been attributed to a mixed
landlord/non-landlord based revenue system. Using a more appropriate
classification of the land revenue system of the Central Provinces
constructed from documented archival research, we find no evidence
that agricultural performance of Indian districts in the
post-independence period was adversely affected by the colonial
landlord land revenue system. Our results demonstrate that the key BI
argument that the more ‘oppressive’ landlord-based colonial land
revenue systems mattered for post-independent agricultural development
in India rests on fragile historical and statistical foundations.

Date: October 19, 2012
Time: 11:30 A.M.

Seminar Room 2
Indian Statistical Institute Delhi Centre,
7, S. J. S. Sansanwal Marg,
New Delhi-110016 (INDIA)


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