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

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Employment Outcomes along the Rural-Urban Gradation

In an economy that is transforming rapidly, both economically and spatially, the boundaries between rural and urban areas have become blurred. In practice, the rural-urban divide is more accurately characterised as a rural-urban gradation. Labour market outcomes vary along this gradation. Not integrating the gradation in our data and analysis leads to important loss of granularity and can yield misleading conclusions, a point we illustrate with the decline in female labour force participation.

From Policy to Practice

A survey in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh—sstates that have extended social pension coverage beyond "below poverty line" families and increased pension amounts—sprovides a window into the challenges of scaling up such programmes. The survey reveals that increased coverage and higher pension amounts do not render the social pension regressive in its distribution; levels of leakage remain low and tractable. Yet, in practice, the schemes are unable to reach all of their target populations. A major challenge in expanding the pension net lies in ensuring entry for the poor. If pension programmes are to be scaled up, entry needs to be facilitated through stricter monitoring of inclusion errors, proactive identification, enrolment camps or other means.

Does India's Employment Guarantee Scheme Guarantee Employment?

An analysis of the National Sample Survey data for 2009-10 confirms expectations that poorer states of India have more demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. However, we find considerable unmet demand for work on the scheme in all states, and more so in the poorest ones, where the scheme is needed most. Nonetheless, the scheme is reaching the rural poor and backward classes and is attracting poor women into the workforce.

Small but Effective: India's Targeted Unconditional Cash Transfers

India's approach to social security stresses the provision of subsidised food and public works. Targeted, unconditional cash transfers are little used, and have been hardly evaluated. An evaluation of cash transfers for the elderly and widows, based on the national household survey data and surveys on social pension utilisation in two, Karnataka and Rajasthan, reveals that these social pension schemes work reasonably well. Levels of leakage are low, funds flow disproportionately to poorer rather than richer households, and there is strong evidence that the funds reach vulnerable individuals. A comparison with the public distribution system reveals that the main strength of the social pensions scheme is its relatively low level of leakage. This paper hypothesises that social pensions suffer less from corruption than India's other safety net programmes either because of the low levels of discretion involved in their delivery or the small size of the transfers involved. Since we cannot choose between these two hypotheses, the scaling-up of the social pension schemes, currently underway while warranted, should be closely monitored.

Employment Guarantee in Rural India

This article assesses the impact on poverty and the likely cost of an employment guarantee scheme providing 100 days of work to the rural people during the lean season. At the current statutory wage rate, the scheme may help reduce rural poverty to 23 per cent (30 per cent year round), at a cost of 1.7 per cent of GDP. But, given the extra cost of the scheme, a greater impact on poverty would be achieved by taking the same fiscal outlay and allocating it equally to everyone, whether poor or not.

Karnataka : Incidence of Agricultural Power Subsidies

Who benefits from the large electricity subsidy provided to farmers in Karnataka? This note looks at the distribution of the annual subsidy, finding it to be quite inequitable. By far the largest beneficiaries are medium and large farmers and the great majority of the rural population receive no benefits at all.

Measuring Poverty in Karnataka

Regionally disaggregated estimates of poverty within India's states are typically not computed because of inadequate sample sizes available for geographic or administrative units below the state level. This paper attempts to ameliorate the sample size problem by pooling the 1999-00 NSS 55th round central and state sample data. We use the pooled data to examine regional variation in poverty within Karnataka. The poverty estimates reveal significant geographic imbalances, with much higher levels and concentration of poverty in the northern districts. Regional patterns are found to be reasonably consistent with independent correlates of poverty, including agricultural wages, employment shares, and district domestic products. However, one important inconsistency is that the rural-urban differentials in poverty rates are not credible and warrant further attention.
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