Trends in Poverty, Inequality and Human Development in India: 2004 to 2024


India seems to be on a trajectory of positive economic growth over the last two decades and is now the fifth largest economy globally. The verdict on what this growth has meant for people’s lives in terms of improving poverty and human development outcomes is unclear. Detailed data on consumption poverty are not available after 2012, while official estimates of multidimensional poverty show improvements. On the other hand, recent data indicate growing concentration of wealth among the top 1% of the population and an increase in overall income inequality. Unemployment, especially among the youth, is a persistent problem and real wages have been stagnant. Outcomes related to human development, especially hunger and malnutrition, and gender-related indicators continue to be poor. This lecture explores some of these trends (including at the sub-national levels and disaggregated by gender and social groups) and discusses the causes and implications of the same. In doing so, we also look at shifts in welfare policies and their links with the observed outcomes.

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