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Inequality in colonial India

Roy, Tirthankar (2018) Inequality in colonial India. Economic History working papers (286). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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A view popular in Indian economic history scholarship claims that the institutional and commercial policy of British India made the rich Indians richer and the poor poorer during colonial rule. The paper shows that the evidence to support the conjecture is weak. Missing data on peasant income makes it hard to generalize on aggregate trends in inequality. But the evidence does question the role of state policy behind trends in inequality. An alternative account starts from the distinction between land-dependent and trade-dependent occupations. The open economy of the nineteenth century affected these two spheres differently. Low and stagnant land-productivity limited the average return that accrued to land-dependent occupations. Occupations directly or indirectly dependent on trading could escape the constraint partially.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
JEL classification: N - Economic History > N1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations > N15 - Asia including Middle East
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 11:23
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2020 00:09

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