Social Security and the Family: Coping with Seasonality and Calamity in Rural India

Bina Agarwal

in Social Security in Developing Countries

Published in print February 1991 | ISBN: 9780198233008
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191678967 | DOI:

Series: WIDER Studies in Development Economics

Social Security and the Family: Coping with Seasonality and Calamity in Rural India

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This chapter draws upon existing studies focusing on the issue of social security essentially in terms of food security. It discusses a conceptual framework for understanding intrafamily relations and puts forward certain analytical propositions on the ways in which seasonality and calamity might impinge on these relations. The chapter examines the nature and effectiveness of the mechanisms adopted by poor agricultural families to provide food security for their members, against seasonality and calamity; the ways in which family coping mechanisms in the two contexts might differ; and intrahousehold inequalities in the burden of coping. It analyses how the family itself may begin to disintegrate in an extreme calamity such as famine, using the Bengal famine of 1943 as a case study, and highlights some aspects of appropriate external interventions.

Keywords: social security; food security; intrafamily relations; agricultural families; seasonality; intrahousehold inequalities; Bengal famine

Chapter.  30459 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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