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P N Mari Bhat: An Intellectual Tribute

Mari Bhat, director of the International Institute of Population Sciences in Mumbai and among the finest demographers of his generation in the world, died suddenly on July 30. A tribute to his work.

Political Economy of Panchayats in South India

Based on a study of some 500 villages in the four southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, this paper examines how the functioning of the panchayat system mandated by the 73rd amendment to the Constitution has had an impact on the economic status of villages and the households within them. The study finds that gram panchayats, created by this massive experiment in democratic decentralisation, have had an effect on the delivery of public services, for example, in the targeting of beneficiaries of welfare programmes, but also that positive outcomes are linked to the political elites thrown up by the system.

Governance and the 'Karnataka Model of Development'

This paper considers the idea of a 'Karnataka model of development', with its emphasis on technology and governance-led development. It is the introduction to the papers in this issue of EPW on 'Governance and Development in Karnataka'. Based on the papers in the symposium, and on the wider literature, it explores the interpretation and application of the idea. It argues that while some of Karnataka's experience does indeed conform to the model and thus holds out lessons for development, there are significant gaps between reality and the model, and these gaps have lessons for development as well.

Experiments in 'Participatory Econometrics'

What the author calls 'participatory econometrics' provides a way for economists to respond better to the challenge of the real world. To illustrate the approach, an example, is outlined of a research project that used participatory econometrics to understand the behaviour of poor households. Some generalisations on the added value of participatory econometrics over more conventional methods of analysis are then briefly drawn.

Are Prices Higher for the Poor-Price Heterogeneity and Real Inequality in Rural Karnataka

Are Prices Higher for the Poor? Price Heterogeneity and 'Real' Inequality in Rural Karnataka Vijayendra Rao A C Komala This paper, based upon a case-study of three villages in Karnataka, uses qualitative and quantitative data to study whether households within the same market pay different prices for identical goods. It is found that not only are unit prices for food heterogeneous, but that the poor pay more for the same goods than the rich. This is because liquidity constraints force poorer households to purchase goods in smalt quantities and consequently subject them to quantity premiums. Quantity effects are directly estimated by OLS and IV for prices, and are found to be particularly acute for dais. Household specific index numbers are calculated to measure this price heterogeneity and are used to adjust nominal incomes to real values. It is found that Gini coefficients of real incomes are between 12 per cent and 23 per cent greater than those for nominal incomes depending upon the price index used. An econometric analysis of the determinants of prices shows that incomes are negatively correlated with prices, as is family size, but that the amount of land owned shows a positive relationship. All of these effects are consistent with a quantity premium explanation.
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