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

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Income Mobility among Social Groups

Looking at income mobility across different social groups in India using the India Human Development Survey data from 2004–05 and 2011–12, different notions of mobility are calculated. Average mobility across quintiles is seen to be higher among backward castes. Higher inter-temporal mobility among households belonging to Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes is noticed, while positional movement is similar across different social groups. Per capita absolute income changes are seen to be the highest for forward castes, while per capita directional income changes were highestfor sc households.

India is a country with high income inequality with gini coefficient of income at 0.532 in 2004–05 (Himanshu 2015). The gini coefficient of income of rural households during the same period was 0.513 which increased to 0.529 in 2011–12.1 The Indian economy registered a high economic growth between 2004–05 and 2011–12. There are various views on how this economic growthand increasing inequality will reconcile in future. While some believe that inequality will decline if high growth continues over a sustained period of time (Bhagwati and Panagariya 2014), others hold that such high and increasing inequality is an area of concern that needs to be addressed immediately (Weisskopf 2011). What actually happens is partly an empirical issue, and it is only with time that we will have an idea of what would actually happen. A related concept that could provide us some leading answers is that of income mobility.

Mobility is a multifaceted concept where specific context needs to be defined properly. It could be measured in the intergenerational or intra-generational context. Also, mobility could be measured using various indices, including occupation, education, income, consumption, earnings, and so on. There are many studies in the Indian context that look at intergenerational mobility of occupation, education, and income (Sharma 1970; Ramachandran 1990; Kumar et al 2002; Majumder 2010; Motiram and Singh 2012; Hnatkovska et al 2013; Nandi 2013; Reddy and Swaminathan 2014; Ahsan and Chatterjee 2015; Azam and Bhatt 2015; Reddy 2015). But, there have been few studies that have looked at intra-generational income mobility in India (Gaiha 1988; Dreze et al 1992; Pradhan and Mukherjee 2015).

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Updated On : 13th Oct, 2017

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