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Overlapping Identities under Liberalization: Gender and Caste in India
Authors: Deshpande, Ashwini
Source: Economic Development and Cultural Change, July 2007, v. 55, iss. 4, pp. 735-60
Topic(s): Gender
Race and ethnicity
Women's health
Country: Asia
  India
Published: JUL 2007
Abstract: This article reviews the major theories on identity and economic outcomes to reiterate that identity affects the material well-being of individuals. Based on two rounds of data from the National Family and Health Survey, this article attempts to examine changes in two of the several identities in India, namely, the gender-caste overlap. The Gender-Caste Development Index (GCDI) from an earlier exercise is used to assess changes in the material standard of living of women within broad caste groups. It turns out that, despite improvements in educational outcomes, substantial intercaste gaps persist within Indian women with major regional variation. The data points cover the period 1992-93 to 1998-99, the start of the liberalization of the Indian economy. Since the data points are separated by only 6--7 years, firm conclusions are not possible; however, based on the evidence from the GCDI, this article comments on the possible links between early liberalization and intergroup disparity.