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Library Data and Dogma : The Great Indian Poverty Debate

Data and Dogma : The Great Indian Poverty Debate

Data and Dogma : The Great Indian Poverty Debate

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Date of publication
December 2013
Resource Language
ISBN / Resource ID

What happened to poverty in India in the
1990s has been fiercely debated, both politically and
statistically. The debate has run parallel to the wider
debate about globalization and poverty in the 1990s and is
also an important part of that debate. The economic reforms
of the early 1990s in India were followed by rates of
economic growth that were high by historical standards. The
effects on poverty remain controversial, however. The
official numbers published by the government of India,
showing acceleration in the rate of poverty reduction from
36 percent of the population in 1993 to 1994 to 26 percent
in 1999 to 2000, have been challenged for showing both too
little and too much poverty reduction. The various claims
have often been frankly political, but there are also many
important statistical issues. The debate, reviewed in this
article, provides an excellent example of how politics and
statistics interact in an important, largely domestic
debate. Although there is no consensus on what happened to
poverty in India in the 1990s, there is good evidence both
that poverty fell and that the official estimates of poverty
reduction are too optimistic, particularly for rural India.
The issues covered in this article, although concerned with
the measurement of poverty in India, have wide international
relevance discrepancies between surveys and national
accounts, the effects of questionnaire design, reporting
periods, survey nonresponse, repair of imperfect data,
choice of poverty lines, and interplay between statistics
and politics.

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Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s)

Deaton, Angus
Kozel, Valerie

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