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Non-farm diversification and rural poverty decline: a perspective from Indian sample survey and village study data

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This paper studies the evolution of the rural non-farm sector in India and its contribution to the decline of poverty. It scrutinizes evidence from a series of nationally representative sample surveys and confronts findings from these sources against the experience of poverty decline in a western Uttar Pradesh village, Palanpur, which has been the subject of close study over a period of six decades. Sample survey data indicate that the non-farm sector in rural India has grown steadily during the past 30 years, with some acceleration during the late 1990s to the mid-2000s followed by a leveling off after 2004-05. The suggestion is of a process that has contributed modestly to declining rural poverty both directly, through employment generation, and indirectly through an impact on agricultural wages. The paper illustrates that in Palanpur, it is only relatively recently that rural poverty decline has become strongly linked to diversification of the village economy. There is little evidence that, prior to the 1990s, the poor in the village were able to participate actively in this process of intersectoral transfer out of agriculture. Data collected in 2008/9 indicate that continued expansion of the non-farm sector has now started to engage the poor directly and in a very significant manner. As the non-farm sector has expanded, the previously disadvantaged and most vulnerable segments of village society have gained access to non-farm employment opportunities and have recorded significant upward mobility. The paper goes on to highlight the close association between urban poverty reduction and rural non-farm growth (and accompanying rural poverty reduction). In particular the paper singles out small towns in India as both particularly closely linked to rural non-farm development and recording particularly high rates of urban poverty. It is suggested that galvanizing small towns may thus serve both urban and rural poverty reduction objectives.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/38371/1/ARCWP44-HimanshuLanjouwMukhopadhyayMurgai.pdf

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