Was the Mandal Commission Right? Living Standard Differences between Backward Classes and Other Social Groups in India

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 01.07.2008, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Ira N. Gang (Rutgers University)


Affirmative action has been at the heart of public policies towards the socially disadvantaged inIndia. Compensatory discrimination policies which have been adopted for the Scheduled Castes (SC)and Scheduled Tribes (ST) since independence were recommended for Other Backward Classes(OBC) by the Mandal Commission established by the Indian government in 1979. We examine whyOBC have lower living standards, as measured by per capita household consumption expenditures,relative to the mainstream population, and whether these reasons are similar to those observed forSC and ST. We find that while the causes of the living standard gap for the OBC are broadly similarto those for the SC and ST, the role of educational attainment in explaining the gap is higher inimportance for the OBC.

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