Caste-Based Crimes and Economic Status: Evidence from India

Posted: 11 May 2012 Last revised: 24 Jan 2015

See all articles by Smriti Sharma

Smriti Sharma

United Nations - World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/WIDER)

Date Written: December 2014

Abstract

Crimes against the historically marginalized Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC and ST) by the upper castes in India represent an extreme form of prejudice and discrimination. In this paper, we investigate whether changes in relative material standards of living between the SCs/STs and upper castes – as measured by the ratio of consumption expenditures of SCs/STs to that of upper castes – are associated with changes in the incidence of crimes against SCs/STs. Based on the hierarchical social structure implied by the caste system, we posit that an increase in the expenditure ratio is positively correlated with the incidence of crimes committed by the upper castes against the lower castes. Using official district level crime data for the period 2001–2010, we find a positive association between crimes and expenditure of SC/ST vis-á-vis the upper castes. Further, distinguishing between violent and non-violent crimes, we find it is the violent crimes that are responsive to changes in economic gaps. Moreover, this relationship is on account of changes in the upper castes’ economic well-being rather than changes in the economic position of the SCs and STs.

Keywords: caste, crime, India

JEL Classification: J15; K42; O12

Suggested Citation

Sharma, Smriti, Caste-Based Crimes and Economic Status: Evidence from India (December 2014). Journal of Comparative Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2055549 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2055549

Smriti Sharma (Contact Author)

United Nations - World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/WIDER) ( email )

Katajanokanlaituri 6B
Helsinki, FIN-00160
Finland

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