The Partition of India: Demographic Consequences
41 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2008 Last revised: 24 Aug 2009
Date Written: June 2009
Large scale migrations, especially involuntary ones, can have a substantial impact on the demographics of both sending and receiving communities. We estimate the impact of the 1947 Indian subcontinent partition, one of the largest and most rapid population exchanges in human history. Comparing neighboring districts better isolates the effect of the migratory flows from secular changes. We find large effects on a districts' educational, occupational, and gender composition within four years. Due to higher education levels amongst migrants, districts with greater inflows saw their literacy rates increase by 16% more while outflows reduced literacy rates by as much as 20%. With less land vacated by those who left Indian Punjab, Indian districts with large inflows saw a decline of 70% in the growth of agricultural occupations. Affected districts also experienced large changes in gender composition with a relatively large drop in percentage men in Indian districts that experienced large outflows, and in Pakistani districts with large inflows. While the partition, driven along religious lines, increased religious homogenization within communities, our results suggest that this was accompanied by increased educational and occupational differences within religious groups. We hypothesize that these compositional effects, in addition to an aggregate population impact, are likely features of involuntary migrations and, as in the case of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, can have important long-term consequences.
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