ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Entrepreneurship or Survival?

Caste and Gender of Small Business in India

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition.

This article tries to understand the involvement of dalits and other marginalised groups, especially adivasis and women, in the micro, small and medium enterprises sector, based on an analysis of unit-level data from registered manufacturing segment of the MSME census data for 2001-02 and 2006-07. It finds clear and  persistent caste and gender disparities throughout. Scheduled caste and scheduled tribe businesses are under-represented, except in the north-eastern states. However, the share of female-owned and managed enterprises is significantly greater among SC-ST owned enterprises. Also, there is evidence of homophily in Other Backward Classes and upper-caste owned firms, suggesting that the rise in dalit entrepreneurship is crucial to increasing dalit employment in the small business sector.

We are extremely grateful to B N Goldar for his help and suggestions in decoding the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) data. We would like to thank the Ministry of MSMEs for providing us with the data. We thank Bhaskar Dutta, Parikshit Ghosh and Thomas E Weisskopf for comments on an earlier draft, and participants at the research students’ colloquium at the Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, and at the 7th IZA-World Bank conference on “Employment and Development” for questions and suggestions. Needless to add, we are solely responsible for all remaining errors and omissions.

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