Polarization, inequality and growth

Working Paper 2011-225


We analyze polarization in India roughly in the past two and half decades using consumption expenditure data. We show that both bipolarization and multidimensional polarization (on several dimensions: caste, rural-urban, state, region) have increased since the 1990s. In the case of bipolarization, this is a reversal from the earlier trend (in the 1980s). Overall, our results suggest that the high growth that India has been witnessing since the 1990s has been associated with widening disparities. Comparing polarization and inequality, we find similarities, but also some differences. Our results therefore underscore the importance of studying polarization as distinct from traditional inequality.

Authors: Sripad Motiram, Nayantara Sarma.

Keywords: Polarization; Inequality; Growth in India.
JEL: D31, D63.