Growth, Reforms and Inequality: India and China Since the 1980s

43 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 23 Dec 2014

See all articles by Sanjay Ruparelia

Sanjay Ruparelia

New School for Social Research - Department of Politics

Lopamudra Banerjee

New School for Social Research - Department of Economics

Ashwini Deshpande

Delhi School of Economics - Department of Economics

Yan Ming

Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Vamsicharan Vakulabharanam

University of Hyderabad - Department of Economics

Wei Zhong

Institute of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

The rapid increase in economic inequality in India and China, in a period of surging aggregate growth and their increasingly critical influence in shaping the global political economy, is a crucial yet unusual example of the ‘Politics in Hard Times’. It demonstrates that national economic prosperity, in a global context of decelerating economic growth, may nevertheless create its own hard times. “Growth, Reforms and Inequality: India and China since the 1980s” is part of an interdisciplinary co-authored project that investigates this important phenomenon.

Since 1980, India and China have been the two fastest growing economies in the world. Both countries have witnessed remarkable transformations in the wake of concerted neo-liberal reforms, especially since the late 1980s, which have unleashed aggregate growth, encouraged structural diversification and shifted the balance of power between and amongst state institutions and social forces in their respective political economies. Yet both India and China have also witnessed rising economic inequalities in this period in terms of income and consumption patterns, not to mention other measures of social welfare. These increasing disparities have caused rising social discontent, political opposition and increasingly violent protest. The phenomenon of growing economic inequality amidst national economic booms has compelled both national governments to introduce a variety of political, institutional and policy measures.

This paper seeks to describe, explain and assess these world significant trends. The first section examines trends in patterns of income and consumption in India and China since the late 1980s on the basis of new statistical data that allows inter-country comparison, something which has been largely neglected in studies of inequality in India and China to date. The second section considers possible rival explanations for these patterns by assessing the relative merit of leading economic, political and sociological theories. The last section (still to be written) examines the range of responses by New Delhi and Beijing to these challenges, assesses the impact of their different political regimes and considers what might be learned from their respective experiences.

Keywords: India, China, growth, reforms, inequality

Suggested Citation

Ruparelia, Sanjay and Banerjee, Lopamudra and Deshpande, Ashwini and Ming, Yan and Vakulabharanam, Vamsicharan and Zhong, Wei, Growth, Reforms and Inequality: India and China Since the 1980s (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1642090

Sanjay Ruparelia (Contact Author)

New School for Social Research - Department of Politics ( email )

NY
United States

Lopamudra Banerjee

New School for Social Research - Department of Economics ( email )

Room 1116
6 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
United States

Ashwini Deshpande

Delhi School of Economics - Department of Economics ( email )

Delhi-110007
India

Yan Ming

Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences ( email )

China

Vamsicharan Vakulabharanam

University of Hyderabad - Department of Economics ( email )

Gachibowli
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh 500046
India

Wei Zhong

Institute of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

2 Yuetan Beixiaojie
Beijing, Beijing
China

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