Caste and Upward Mobility

Vegard Iversen

in The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Economy

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199734580
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Caste and Upward Mobility

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  • Economics
  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Labour and Demographic Economics



A key question confronting India, well into the post-iberalization era, is whether—and if so, why—the traditional institution of caste may be beginning to lose its grip. It remains a fact that the social groups at the bottom of the caste hierarchy (scheduled castes, or SCs) or otherwise judged worthy of special concessions continue to be overrepresented among the rural and urban poor. This is in spite of radical, comprehensive, and enduring policy interventions to address this idiosyncratic facet of Indian deprivation. The gradual ascent of lower castes into north Indian legislative assemblies following earlier and similar progress in the South and West has not only altered India's political landscape but spurred a new optimism. The moot question then is whether the optimism that has gained currency finds support in data that go beyond political representation and coarse measures of rural public infrastructure provision.

Keywords: caste; iberalization; caste hierarchy; special concessions; political representation; infrastructure provision

Article.  11221 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Economic Development and Growth ; Labour and Demographic Economics

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