In a new study that looks at inter-generational mobility in India, the major takeaway is that Muslims are now the least upwardly mobile group in India. Another aspect covered was geographic inter-generational mobility, pooling results across all population groups. Authored by Sam Asher (World Bank), Paul Novosad (Dartmouth College) and Charlie Rafkin (MIT), the study has been published on the Dartmouth website. How does it assess upward mobility?
Using a new statistical method, the study analyses data from the India Human Development Survey (for education distribution) and the Socioeconomic and Caste Census (geographic). For its key finding, it samples children (born between 1950 and 1989) of parents who were in the bottom half of the education distribution, and assesses their prospects of moving up the distribution.
The geographic variation is substantial. Upward mobility in consistently highest in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and also noticeably high in the hilly states of the North. Parts of the Hindi-speaking belt —especially Bihar — and the Northeast are among the lowest mobility parts of India. There is not a single subdistrict or town in Bihar with higher average mobility than the southern states. Gujarat stands out as a state with very high economic growth but relatively low mobility.
IN One of the broader findings on education ranks, a child’s chances of moving up in these ranks relative to his/her parents are basically unchanged since before liberalisation. “While India’s recent growth has made almost everyone a lot better off, it hasn’t changed the rate of churn at all. If you started at the bottom, you’re just as likely to finish at the bottom as you would have been in 1950,” Novosad tweeted.
Breaking up these ranks according to community, the study found that SCs born in the bottom half of the parent distribution in the 1950s could expect to obtain between the 30th and 34th percentile; the comparable group in the 1980s obtains the 38th percentile.
Upward mobility for STs rises from 25-29 to 32 over the same period. Muslim inter-generational mobility rises weakly from the 1950s to the 1960s, but then declines substantially, falling from 31-34 in the 1960s to 29 in the 1980s. The “Forward/Others” group shows little change, with mobility shifting from 41-45 to 41.