Is Caste Destiny? Occupational Diversification Among Dalits in Rural India

41 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2012

See all articles by Ira N. Gang

Ira N. Gang

Rutgers University - Economics Department; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Kunal Sen

University of East Anglia

Myeong-Su Yun

Inha University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

The caste system – a system of elaborately stratified social hierarchy – distinguishes India from most other societies. Among the most distinctive factors of the caste system is the close link between castes and occupations, especially in rural India, with Dalits or Scheduled Castes (SC) clustered in occupations that were the least well paid and most degrading in terms of manual labour. Along with the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the SCs have the highest incidence of poverty in India, with poverty rates that are much higher than the rest of the population. Since independence, the Indian government has enacted affirmative action policies in educational institutions and public sector employment for SCs and STs. In addition, in the more populous states of India, political parties have emerged that are strongly pro-SC in their orientation in the more populous states of India. We use five rounds of all-India employment data from the National Sample Survey quinquennial surveys from 1983 to 2004 to assess whether these political and social changes has led to a weakening of the relationship between low caste status and occupational segregation that has existed historically in India. We find evidence that the occupational structure of the SC households is converging to that of the non-scheduled households. However, we do not find evidence of a similar occupational convergence for ST households.

Keywords: caste, occupational diversification, poverty, India

JEL Classification: O12, J15

Suggested Citation

Gang, Ira N. and Sen, Kunal and Yun, Myeong-Su, Is Caste Destiny? Occupational Diversification Among Dalits in Rural India. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6295. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1999323

Ira N. Gang (Contact Author)

Rutgers University - Economics Department ( email )

75 Hamilton Street
ECONOMICS, New Jersey Hall, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1248
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732-932-7363 (Phone)
732-932-7416 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econweb.rutgers.edu/gang/research

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Kunal Sen

University of East Anglia ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Myeong-Su Yun

Inha University - Department of Economics ( email )

253 Yonghyun-dong
Nam-gu Incheon 402-751
+82 32 860-7779 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/myeongsuyun

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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