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Margins in the mountains: poverty dynamics in India’s western and eastern Ghats

Margins in the mountains: poverty dynamics in India’s western and eastern Ghats

Pattison, John Karl (2016) Margins in the mountains: poverty dynamics in India’s western and eastern Ghats. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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Extreme poverty is a persistent issue in south India and there are moral and economic imperatives to change this situation. Effective poverty reduction strategies require ongoing advances in knowledge so that strategic action on poverty alleviation can be implemented. This thesis addresses that need by using an integrated methodological approach to explore household poverty dynamics in three mountainous regions in south India. Nine hundred household surveys and eight focus group discussions were conducted amongst landless, landed and scheduled tribal (ST) groups to answer four specific research questions: 1) What are the perceived trajectories of local wellbeing 2) Do multiple equilibria poverty traps exist? 3) What is the influence of women’s power and other covariates on household asset accumulation? 4) What are the local perspectives on government policy schemes? Qualitative results indicate a general positive outlook of wellbeing that does not differ due to household land ownership or ST membership, but does show slight differences between research sites: positive in Jeypore, negative in Kolli Hills, and ambiguous in Wayanad. Quantitative results support this conclusion by showing no evidence of multiple equilibria poverty traps using income, expenditure or asset dynamic approaches. A novel semiparametric multiple factor polynomial (MFP) analysis shows household characteristics such as age, education and female headship are positively related to asset accumulation, while factors such as household size and ST membership have a negative effect. Women’s power was unexpectedly found to have a non-linear impact on asset accumulation, with the challenging conclusion that increasing women’s power does not always enhance the wellbeing of a household; to my knowledge this is the first time that women’s intra-household bargaining power is included in empirical poverty trap analyses. Finally, government schemes were considered to be a major contributor to this wellbeing advance. While this thesis sheds light on poverty dynamics in three remote locations, the primary research contribution is methodological: using the MFP approach to semi-parametrically assess poverty traps; and empirical: finding a non-linear relationship between women’s power and household asset accumulation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: This research programme was carried out in collaboration with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, India and the University of Alberta, Canada
Uncontrolled Keywords: Multiple equilibria; poverty traps; semi-parametric; India; policy; asset dynamics; intra-household bargaining;
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2019 11:37

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