ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Structural Change in Bihar's Rural Economy

Findings from a Longitudinal Study

Bihar has been showing signs of emerging from stagnation and backwardness. For this to occur in full, an agrarian transformation is central in a state where urbanisation remains very low. This paper uses longitudinal household data from a sample of villages to explore changes in production relations, land and other assets, agricultural development and occupational diversification. There has been a significant change in class structure and a shift away from agricultural occupations for male workers (much less for female), but non-agricultural work is mainly outside the village and largely outside the state. Real wages have risen substantially, more than can be explained by rising agricultural productivity, migration being an important contributory factor. But the segmentation of the rural labour market has increased and local development is uneven.

This paper is derived from the Institute of Human Development Research Programme on Inclusive Development in Bihar, and includes contributions by other members of the research team, notably Sunil Kumar Mishra (survey and statistics), Amrita Datta (in particular, analysis of migration and income) and Janine Rodgers (especially work on occupation and gender). The paper is largely based on a presentation in the International Conference on “Policy Options and Investment Priorities for Accelerating Agricultural Productivity and Development in India,” organised by the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research and Institute for Human Development, New Delhi on 10–11 November 2011.

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