ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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THE ECONOMY-Urban-Rural Gap

Urban-Rural Gap THERE is substantial circumstantial evidence of the growing dichotomy between rural and urban areas in our pattern of development, though reliable statistics are hard to come by. Even when such data come to hand, the conceptual and coverage differences in the data sources render comparisons difficult. This is because, following the population censuses, the line of rural-urban demarcation is not always easy to draw. Even so, however arbitrary the line of demarcation may be, there is need to put together information on differences in the pace and pattern of development as between the rural and urban sectors. These differences, it would appear, are not only large but are growing and form one of the major con tradictions of the country's development. Against this background, the attempt by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) to estimate the net domestic product originating in the rural and urban areas, even if only for bench-mark years like 1970-71 and 1980-81, needs to be commended. The data base is obviously weak as, for a majority of the sectors, all-India estimates of GDP have had to be apportioned as between the rural and urban areas on the basis of the estimate of the number of workers in the respective areas from the 1981 census multiplied by per worker value added/earnings/wages obtained from various surveys and other sources; the only exception to this method being forestry, fishing and registered manufacturing for which independent data on output for the rural and urban areas have been used. Unless the quality of per worker estimates obtained from field surveys is known, it is difficult to make an assessment of the CSO's estimates of rural-urban differences. However, if the general experience of field surveys is any guide, it can be said that they do not capture the extremes of very low and very high earners in a representative manner. But how systematic are these biases and how they-affect the mean values is difficult to say. A broad judgment that can be made is that rural incomes are likely to be overestimated in the methodology employed by the CSO.

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