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

InequalitySubscribe to Inequality

Socio-economic Inequality in Longevity in India

Two new indices, the index of representation in longevity and the index of socio-economic inequality in longevity, are presented for examining socio-economic inequality in longevity in India. The India Human Development Survey data from the 2004–05 and 2011–12 rounds are used to investigate socio-economic inequality based on caste, occupation, economic classes, and geographic regions. The findings suggest that India suffers from substantial socio-economic inequality in longevity with the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Muslims being worst off. Groups such as agricultural and non-agricultural labourers, petty traders, and lower economic classes were substantially under-represented in longevity. Regionally, the south and west have over-representation, whereas the central, east, and north-east have under-representation in longevity.

COVID-19 and Multiple Inequalities

Despite the overall achievements, Kerala’s handling of its first case of community transmission in the coastal village of Poonthura came under severe criticism. In this article, the potential pathways to the resistance raised by the fisherfolk in Poonthura are explored, thereby placing their responses as historically and politically embedded ones.

Income and Inequality across Rural–Urban, Occupational, and Caste Divides

The evolution of income in India from 2014–19 is analysed, and it is found that the lower end of the income distribution has experienced significant losses—the bottom ventile shows not only a decline in income share of ~41% but also a negative real average income growth of -5.5% per annum. Further investigating the composition of this part of the distribution using rural and urban splits, it is found that even as income shares at the bottom of the urban distribution have increased over time, those at the bottom of the rural distribution have decreased—income share of the bottom decile of the rural income distribution declined by ~43%, and the real average income growth of this decile was -5% per annum. The bottom ventile of the consolidated Indian income distribution is composed primarily of rural incomes and therefore the decline in real incomes is essentially a rural phenomenon.

Success Factories

In recent years, India has become home to one of the fastest-growing test preparation or coaching for “high-stakes examination” industries in the world. In this paper, collating data from various sources, we demonstrate its growth, explore the potential factors fuelling it, and argue that it contributes to the perpetuation of deeply ingrained inequalities in the Indian society. Seeing these trends as symbolic of the transformation of higher education into a tradable commodity, we highlight the limited attempts by the state in developing a robust regulatory environment despite increasing recognition of associated problems.

Reimagining the Relationship with the Non-human World

Wild and Wilful by Neha Sinha, Noida: HarperCollins Publishers, 2021; pp 232, ` 599 .

Household Consumption Expenditure Inequality in Rural India (1993–94 to 2011–12)

The comparative role of determinants of household-level consumption expenditure inequalities (henceforth, inequalities) in rural India between two sub-periods, 1994–2005 and 2005–12 are examined, using three rounds of the National Sample Survey Consumer Expenditure Survey. The changes in the components of consumption expenditure and population characteristics are explored that explain inequalities during the two sub-periods, which represent distinct policy environments. We use both a priori and regression-based decomposition methods for the analysis. We find that there is a complete reversal of the role of education in explaining inequalities. It shifted from being an inequality-increasing factor during 1994–2005 to an inequality-equalising factor during 2005–12. This reversal is induced by decreasing consumption returns to education due to the depressed job market. The role of locational factors has increased in explaining the increase in inequalities over time. The non-food components induce an increase in the overall inequalities via an increased expenditure on durables. The within-group component contributes the most to the level of and change in inequalities.

Durable Growth Revival

The recent growth recovery has been uneven as is visible across different sectors of the economy and different segments of the population. This unevenness is hurting the consumption of lower-income households and private investments, which are vital for sustained or durable growth.

Should We Abolish the Minimum Wage?

While heated debates persist in developed countries regarding the continuation of the minimum wage laws, they still remain popular around the world. Unemployment concerns around the minimum wage fade away when the monopsony nature of the labour market is taken into consideration. Given the distinct nature of workers earning minimum wages in low-income countries when compared to high-income ones, it remains significantly effective in tackling inequality in the former. The job polarisation because of the labour-replacing technologies of today underlines the importance of such a measure. Thus, there is still a need for minimum wage, more so for low-income countries.

Market-induced Global Inequalities

Excessive dependence on markets can result in even greater inequality and warped outcomes.

Need for Equalising Endowments

The article notes that the persistence of inequality, as observed over two centuries, undoubtedly points towards its origins in endowments, which perpetuates inequality in such a consistent manner. The lesson derived from this scrutiny highlights the need for focusing on equalising endowments, particularly the intangible ones, to sustain betterment and attain convergence in the economic landscape.

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