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

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Poverty in India in the 1990s

The authors examine the poverty situation in 15 major states across four distinct dimensions of headcount ratio, size of the poor population, depth and severity for the rural, the urban and the total population. The poverty situation, they find, worsened over the six-year period 1993-94 to 1999-2000 in Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. In the remaining 12 states there was a distinct improvement in terms of the most visible indicator, namely, the absolute size of the poor population. Overall, despite diversity across poverty indicators and across states, the overwhelming impression is one of greater improvement in the poverty situation in the 1990s than in the previous 10�½-year period.

Employment and Poverty in 1990s

The release of the Provisional Population Totals based on Population Census 2001 necessitates revisions in the estimates of population and of workforce for 1993-94 and 1999-2000 and hence also in the estimates of labour productivity. Besides carrying out the necessary revisions in the size of the workforce (and in labour productivity), this paper offers a detailed industrial distribution of the workforce as well as an occupation distribution of the workforce based on the additional tables now available from the NSS 55th Round Employment-Unemployment Survey.

Economic Reforms and Poverty Alleviation

The National Sample Survey has been among the most robust and well respected national household surveys in the world for almost half a century. It is therefore natural that most observers accept the estimates thrown up by the NSS. However, since mid-1980s there is another large-scale survey, the Market Information Survey of Households (MISH) of the NCAER, which can provide consistent information on income trends in the country. Which of these two surveys is to be believed about the trends in poverty redressal during the reform era: MISH which suggests a marked decline or the NSS which points to stagnation in poverty ratios? To answer this question is the primary purpose of this paper.

Employment-Unemployment Situation in the Nineties

Based on a comparative analysis of the NSS Employment-Unemployment Surveys for 1993-94 and 1999-2000, this paper examines, at the all-India level, the changes in: the size and structure of workforce; the extent of unemployment and underemployment; labour productivity and days worked; and wage earnings per worker and per head of population in rural and urban India. Key results include a slower growth of workforce relative to that of population; a reduction in the share and size of the workforce in agriculture and in community, social and personal services; and widespread gains in labour productivity getting translated into equally widespread and significant growth in average wage earnings per worker and per capita.

NAS-NSS Estimates of Private Consumption for Poverty Estimation

In the context of the controversy over the trends in poverty in India in the 1990s, this paper addresses the question of using the National Accounts Statistics (NAS) estimate of private final consumption expenditure (PFCE) in place of National Sample Survey (NSS) based estimate for calculating the proportion of the population below the poverty line or headcount ratio. A comparison is undertaken for the year 1993-94 between NAS estimate of PFCE and household consumer expenditure estimated from NSS disaggregated across item-groups of consumption and across selected fractile groups of the rural and urban population. Two alternative estimates from NAS - old series in NAS 1998 and the latest revision in NAS 1999 - are compared. Similarly, two alternative NSS estimates are considered - one directly available using a uniform 30-day reference or recall period and a synthetic one constructed to reflect the effect of using non-uniform reference period. The analysis of comparison of these four estimates suggests two major conclusions. One, the issue of accepting NAS estimate of PFCE as more correct and reliable than NSS estimate is far from settled. Two, the item groups that accounted for a very large proportion of the aggregate discrepancy between NAS and NSS estimates had a much smaller budget share in the consumption basket of the bottom 30 per cent fractile group in the rural and urban areas, whereas in respect of item-groups which together accounted for over 75 per cent of the consumption of the bottom 30 per cent, the divergence between the two estimates was much smaller than on the average for all item groups and negative in some cases.
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