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Indian Muslims biggest losers, SCs, STs fared better; says intergenerational mobility study

Looking at education and income, inter-generational mobility (upward mobility from parent to child) in India shows little change. Muslims are the biggest losers while Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have done better on the index and upper castes and OBCs have remained where they were.

The study, which looks at social groups and intergenerational mobility concludes that, overall, there is little inter-generational mobility and it has not changed even after economic liberalisation. It, however, concludes that some mobility made possible for Dalits and Scheduled Tribes has been offset by severely declining mobility for Muslims, The Indian Express reported.

Authors Sam Asher, an economist at World Bank; Paul Novosad, assistant professor of economics Dartmouth College and Charlie Rafkin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) after surveying the administrative data of 5,600 rural sub-districts and 2,300 cities and towns came up with the study.

The study also says that mobility levels for African Americans in US are better than those for Muslims in India but the movement of Dalits and Scheduled Tribes is comparable to that of African-Americans.

Inter-generational mobility talks about change of economic and education status across generations, and uses “changes in access to opportunity over the long run” as a measure for describing.

Co-author Paul Novostad says “while India’s growth has made almost everyone a lot better off, it has not changed the rate of churn at all, if you started at the bottom, you’re just as likely to finish at the bottom as you would have been in 1950.”

Muslims have been defined as the “least upwardly mobile group in India”, claiming that the situation is worse than that of African Americans. In the US, while those born at the bottom half of education distribution on average tends to get to the 34th percentile, Muslims can expect to only get to the 28th, something they term as “really low.”

The study also finds that South India is overall more inclusive, as is urban India and that education acts as a booster of prospects: “On average, children are most successful at exiting the bottom of the distribution in places that are southern, urban, or have higher average education levels.”

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