Effort, Opportunity, and Inequality: Caste and Religious Differences in Earnings in India

Sonalde B. Desai, University of Maryland
Amaresh Dubey, North-Eastern Hill University
Amit Thorat, National Council of Applied Economic Research, India

While public policy and social science research both have tremendous interest in the role of social origin in creating inequality of opportunity, research on disparities in labor market outcomes has been hampered by a variety of theoretical and methodological constraints. In this paper, we examine the inequality in earnings outcomes of males aged 25-54 in India with a particular focus on the role of caste and religious inequalities. Given the conflation of educational and earnings inequalities, this paper tries to isolate the role of labor market inequalities by: (1) Controlling for quality as well as quantity of education; and, (2) Examining the role of effort and motivation vis-à-vis that of social class in shaping labor market outcomes. This analysis is made possible by access to India Human Development Survey of 2005. The IHDS surveyed a nationally representative sample of 41,554 households located in urban as well as rural India.

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Presented in Session 47: Educational and Labor Force Inequality in Developing Countries II