Tuesday, February 21, 2012

24 February 2012: Breaking the Caste Barrier: Intergenerational Mobility in India

Sourabh Bikas Paul
University of British Columbia

Amongst the various inequities typically associated with the caste
system in India, probably one of the most debilitating is the
perception that one is doomed by birth, i.e., social and economic
mobility across generations is difficult. We study the extent and
evolution of this lack of mobility by contrasting the
intergenerational mobility rates of the historically disadvantaged
scheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST) in India with the rest of the
workforce in terms of their education attainment, occupation choices
and wages. Using household survey data from successive rounds of the
National Sample Survey between 1983 and 2005, we find that
inter-generational education and income mobility rates of SC/STs have
converged to non-SC/ST levels during this period. Moreover, SC/STs
have been switching occupations relative to their parents at
increasing rates, matching the corresponding switch rates of
non-SC/STs in the process. Interestingly, we have found that a common
feature for both SC/STs and non-SC/STs is that the sharpest change in
intergenerational income mobility has been for middle income
households. This is consistent with the effects of easing credit
constraints, a phenomenon that did characterize this period. We
conclude that the last twenty years of major structural changes in
India have also coincided with a breaking down of caste-based
historical barriers to socio-economic mobility.

Date: February 24, 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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