Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-747cfc64b6-zmlw7 Total loading time: 0.247 Render date: 2021-06-13T19:18:15.961Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true }

Those who can't sort, steal: caste, occupational mobility, and rent-seeking in rural India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2021

Nicholas Lawson
Affiliation:
Département des sciences économiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Case Postale 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3P8, Canada
Dean Spears
Affiliation:
Department of Economics, University of Texas at Austin, 2225 Speedway, BRB 1.116, C3100, Austin, 78712, Texas, USA Indian Statistical Institute - Delhi, Delhi, India IZA, Bonn, Germany IFFS, Stockholm, Sweden
Corresponding
E-mail address:
Get access

Abstract

Three important features of Indian labor markets enduringly coexist: rent-seeking, occupational immobility, and caste. These facts are puzzling, given theories that predict static, equilibrium social inequality without conflict. Our model explains these facts as an equilibrium outcome. Some people switch caste-associated occupations for an easier source of rents, rather than for productivity. This undermines trust between castes and shuts down occupational mobility, which further encourages rent-seeking due to an inability of workers to sort into occupations. We motivate our contribution with novel stylized facts exploiting a unique survey question on casteism in India, which we show is associated with rent-seeking.

Type
Research Paper
Copyright
Copyright © Université catholique de Louvain 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

References

Acemoglu, Daron (1995) Reward structures and the allocation of talent. European Economic Review 39(1), 1733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Akerlof, George (1976) The economics of caste and of the rat race and other woeful tales. Quarterly Journal of Economics 90(4), 599617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Allport, Gordon (1954) The Nature of Prejudice. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
Anderson, Siwan (2011) Caste as an impediment to trade. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3(1), 239263.Google Scholar
Baland, Jean-Marie and Francois, Patrick (2000) Rent-seeking and resource booms. Journal of Development Economics 61(2), 527542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baumol, William J. (1990) Entrepreneurship: productive, unproductive, and destructive. Journal of Political Economy 98(5), 893921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Becker, Gary S. (1957) The Economics of Discrimination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Bidner, Chris and Eswaran, Mukesh (2015) A gender-based theory of the origin of the caste system of India. Journal of Development Economics 114, 142158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bros, Catherine and Couttenier, Mathieu (2015) Untouchability, homicides and water access. Journal of Comparative Economics 43(3), 549558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Choy, James P. (2018) Social division with endogenous hierarchy. Economic Journal 128(615), 27112742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Coffey, Diane and Spears, Dean (2017) Where India Goes: Abandoned Toilets, Stunted Development, and the Costs of Caste. Delhi: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
Desai, Sonalde and Vanneman, Reeve (2018) India Human Development Survey-II (IHDS-II), 2011–12. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2018-08-08. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36151.v6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Duh, Josephine and Spears, Dean (2017) Health and hunger: disease, energy needs, and the Indian calorie consumption puzzle. The Economic Journal 127(606), 23782409.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Forbes, Kristin J. (2000) A reassessment of the relationship between inequality and growth. American Economic Review 90(4), 869887.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Galor, Oded and Moav, Omer (2004) From physical to human capital accumulation: inequality and the process of development. Review of Economic Studies 71(4), 10011026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gupta, Aashish, Coffey, Diane and Spears, Dean (2016) Purity, pollution, and untouchability: challenges affecting the adoption, Use, and sustainability of sanitation programmes in rural India. In Bongartz, Petra, Vernon, Naomi and Fox, John (eds.), Sustainable Sanitation for All: Experiences, Challenges, and Innovations, pp. 281298. Rugby, UK: Practical Action Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hnatkovska, Viktoria, Lahiri, Amartya and Paul, Sourabh B. (2013) Breaking the caste barrier: intergenerational mobility in India. Journal of Human Resources 48(2), 435473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoff, Karla and Stiglitz, Joseph E. (2016) Striving for balance in economics: towards a theory of the social determination of behavior. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 126(Part B), 2557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jacoby, Hanan G. and Mansuri, Ghazala (2015) Crossing boundaries: how social hierarchy impedes economic mobility. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 117, 135154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jalal, Ayesha (1995) Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: A Comparative and Historical Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johansson-Stenman, Olof (2008) Who are the trustworthy, we think? Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 68(3–4), 456465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, Donald and Johnson, Jean (2017) Jati: The Caste System in India. http://asiasociety.org/education/jati-caste-system-india, Center for Global Education, Asia Society. Viewed on January 25, 2017.Google Scholar
Khamis, Melanie, Prakash, Nishith and Siddique, Zahra (2012) Consumption and social identity: evidence from India. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 83(3), 353371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kumar, Sanjay, Heath, Anthony and Heath, Oliver (2002) Determinants of social mobility in India. Economic and Political Weekly 37(29), 29832987.Google Scholar
Lamba, Sneha and Spears, Dean (2013) Caste, ‘cleanliness’ and cash: effects of caste-based political reservations in Rajasthan on a sanitation prize. Journal of Development Studies 49(11), 15921606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lee, Michelle Ye Hee (2014) Fact Checker: Giuliani's Claim that 93 Percent of Black Murder Victims are Killed by Other Blacks. The Washington Post, November 25. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/11/25/giulianis-claim-that-93-percent-of-blacks-are-killed-by-other-blacks.Google Scholar
Mayoral, Laura and Ray, Debraj (2016) Groups in Conflict: Size Matters, But Not in the Way You Think. Unpublished Paper.Google Scholar
Mehlum, Halvor, Moene, Karl and Torvik, Ragnar (2005) Crime induced poverty traps. Journal of Development Economics 77(2), 325340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mehlum, Halvor, Moene, Karl and Torvik, Ragnar (2006) Institutions and the resource curse. Economic Journal 116(508), 120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Munshi, Kaivan and Rosenzweig, Mark (2016) Networks and misallocation: insurance, migration, and the rural-urban wage gap. American Economic Review 106(1), 4698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Münster, Johannes and Staal, Klaas (2011) War with outsiders makes peace inside. Conflict Management and Peace Science 28(2), 91110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Murphy, Kevin M., Shleifer, Andrei and Vishny, Robert W. (1991) The allocation of talent: implications for growth. Quarterly Journal of Economics 106(2), 503530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Persson, Torsten and Tabellini, Guido (1994) Is inequality harmful for growth? American Economic Review 84(3), 600621.Google Scholar
Ray, Debraj (1998) Development Economics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Reddy, A. Bheemeshwar (2015) Changes in intergenerational occupational mobility in India: evidence from national sample surveys, 1983–2012. World Development 76, 329343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sharma, Smriti (2015) Caste-Based crimes and economic Status: evidence from India. Journal of Comparative Economics 43(1), 204226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Singh, Prerna (2015) Subnationalism and social development: a comparative analysis of Indian states. World Politics 67(3), 506562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spears, Dean and Thorat, Aimit (2019) The puzzle of open defecation in rural India: evidence from a novel measure of caste attitudes in a nationally representative survey. Economic Development and Cultural Change 67(4), 725755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tirole, Jean (1996) A theory of collective reputations (With applications to the persistence of corruption and to firm quality). Review of Economic Studies 63(1), 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Lawson and Spears supplementary material

Lawson and Spears supplementary material

Download Lawson and Spears supplementary material(File)
File 7 KB

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Those who can't sort, steal: caste, occupational mobility, and rent-seeking in rural India
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Those who can't sort, steal: caste, occupational mobility, and rent-seeking in rural India
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Those who can't sort, steal: caste, occupational mobility, and rent-seeking in rural India
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *