Saturday, April 17, 2021
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Study shows that hold of caste and social standing persists despite affirmative actions like reservations. Cities offer better occupational mobility than villages

Around 38% of low skilled labourers had grandfathers in same occupation. Image: Pixabay

ARE YOU likely to be poor and socially backward if your grandfather was too?  A latest paper finds that educational levels have increased in India over three generations but people are still holding same occupations. So, there is clear evidence of “grandfather effect”.

This multigenerational mobility differs in social groups. For instance, for Muslims mobility in education and occupation has decreased in comparison to that of Hindus while SC/ST and OBCs have become more mobile over generations in education (compared to General Castes), but not as much in occupational mobility.

This puts a question mark on how well the affirmative action policies like caste-based reservations are working. One of the most evident instance that comes to mind is job of sanitation workers. They tend to belong to same communities despite their better education levels than two generations earlier.

The paper, ‘Multigenerational Mobility in India’, by Anustup Kundu and Kunal Sen published by United Nations University used 25,000 datasets of grandfather-father-son traits  (data on daughters was not available) of all age sets from 1913- 2012. This timeline has major economic reforms and affirmative action plan on SC, STs, OBCs. 

The multi-generation mobility is an easy way to measure the inequality in opportunity in a country. In societies where there is a dynastic transmission of wealth and social standing, inter-generational persistence of economic and social status is likely to suppress the social progress.

In developing countries, impact of parents’ caste, social group, race, education, occupation and ethnicity on child’s status is higher compared to developed countries.

The study found that agricultural labourers had the toughest time moving out of the occupation as 48 percent of the grandsons of agricultural workers were stuck in the same occupation. Most of the farm workers in India are landless Dalits. Second best option for them was working as low-skilled labour (16 percent). Only 6 percent of the third generation men from this segment became farmers or owned farm land.

Farmers, most probably small and marginal categories, also joined agricultural worker segment over three generations. Around 30 percent grandsons of farmers were now agricultural workers while only 28 percent remained farmers.

Category of clerks was found to be as rigid as agricultural labourers. More than 45 percent of the grandsons of clerks were also found to be engaged in clerical work.

Agricultural labourers had the toughest time moving out of the occupation as 48 percent of the grandsons of agricultural workers were stuck in the same occupation. Most of the farm workers in India are landless Dalits

Newer Generations Getting Better Education 

Educational mobility was found to be higher in son-father pair than father-grandfather pairs which means recent generation move out of house more than the earlier generations. But as mentioned earlier there is no or little difference in occupation mobility between son-father, father-grandfather pair

Inter-generational persistence of no or pre-primary level of education has reduced over time for Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, but less so in case of Muslims. 

The proportion of male children who have pre-primary level of education similar to their fathers has reduced as we move from father-grandfather pair to father- son pair, which means education has become more accessible in recent times.

While 43 percent of the sons of the first generation who had no or pre-primary level of education also had no or pre-primary level of education, the corresponding number was 14.3 percent for the next generational pair.

For the grandfathers who had no or pre-primary level of education, a remarkable 29 percent of their grandsons had attained higher education.

When it comes to urban-rural difference, multigenerational educational mobility has weakened for city residents compared to villagers while occupational mobility, especially for those whose grandfathers were farmers, labourers and low skilled workers, has increased.

This means urban India offers greater chances of occupational advancement for those occupying lower rungs while rural parts have caught up in schooling over time.

For the grandfathers who had no or pre-primary level of education, a remarkable 29 percent of their grandsons had attained higher education

For social mobility, a range of factors like credit constraints on human capital investment, peer effects, and neighbourhood effects are responsible for intergenerational persistence of economic and social statuses.

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