We investigate whether historic land distribution determines stagnation or development of Indian villages. The empirical analysis is motivated by the Banerjee and Newman (1993) model of occupational choice and economic development. Family histories are collected for a random sample of 800 households. Households are classified into economic categories according to the assets–occupations mix at present and at grandfather’s time. Transitions are described, and for a remote district explained, by the historic village land distribution. We also investigate the role of social identity, and find that scheduled tribes are more likely trapped in poverty than scheduled castes.
The article received the Dudley Seers Memorial Prize for the best article in Journal of Development Studies in 2014.
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