UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Essays on economic development in India Paul, Sourabh Bikas


My research is an empirical investigation of how some recent changes in the Indian economy have affected the most vulnerable sections of Indian society. The thesis has three chapters. The first chapter examines the impact of the tariff reductions undertaken in 1991 across different consumption groups. I evaluate the distributional impact of tariff reforms in India using household survey data. I estimate the overall gains coming from general equilibrium effects of the commodity market and labour market adjustment; all consumption groups have significant welfare gains. In addition, it appears that tariff reforms have a pro-poor distributional effect in rural areas and a pro-rich distributional effect in urban areas. The second chapter deals with income opportunities of underprivileged classes in India. Can large macroeconomic changes also alter the historical economic mobility patterns of various social groups? We examine this question by contrasting the fortunes of the historically disadvantaged scheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST) in India with the rest of the workforce in terms of their education attainment, occupation choices and wages. Our key findings are that wages have been converging across the two groups with rising education attainments accounting for the majority of this convergence. SC/STs have also been switching occupations at increasing rates during this period. Moreover, inter-generational education and income mobility rates of SC/STs have converged to non-SC/ST levels. In the third chapter, I present some estimates for India that demonstrate that structural changes in the impact of income on food demand have been significant factors driving the changes in dietary patterns in this rapidly growing economy. A Quadratic Almost Ideal Demand System is estimated for six food groups. The estimation results confirm a shift in taste of both rural and urban households that explains low demand for nutrient-rich inexpensive food and a greater variety of expensive sources of nutrients. The quality of diet has been falling in terms of excessive fat intake with no sign of significant improvement in diet quality in terms of other nutrients.

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