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

SurveySubscribe to Survey

Reliability of Our Statistical System  

In this brief rejoinder to G Raveendran’s article “Good and Bad Statistics” (EPW, 16 September 2023), the authors argue that there is no empirical or theoretical ground for treating rates and ratios from the National Sample Survey as more reliable, under the assumption of similar underestimation in the numerator as well as the denominator.

Good and Bad Statistics

There has been a public debate on the quality of offi cial statistics being produced by the Indian statistical system. The debate was initiated by persons holding high positions in the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and claimed that the existing survey mechanisms were archaic and not adapted for rapid changes, and thus grossly underestimated India’s progress. It also made an assessment that India’s offi cial statistics are excellent on the administrative side and mediocre on censuses and surveys. This article examines the basis on which the above statements were made and proves its fallacy.

Household Consumption Expenditure Inequality in Rural India (1993–94 to 2011–12)

The comparative role of determinants of household-level consumption expenditure inequalities (henceforth, inequalities) in rural India between two sub-periods, 1994–2005 and 2005–12 are examined, using three rounds of the National Sample Survey Consumer Expenditure Survey. The changes in the components of consumption expenditure and population characteristics are explored that explain inequalities during the two sub-periods, which represent distinct policy environments. We use both a priori and regression-based decomposition methods for the analysis. We find that there is a complete reversal of the role of education in explaining inequalities. It shifted from being an inequality-increasing factor during 1994–2005 to an inequality-equalising factor during 2005–12. This reversal is induced by decreasing consumption returns to education due to the depressed job market. The role of locational factors has increased in explaining the increase in inequalities over time. The non-food components induce an increase in the overall inequalities via an increased expenditure on durables. The within-group component contributes the most to the level of and change in inequalities.

Determinants and Dynamics of Food Insecurity during COVID-19 in Rural Eastern India

Using comprehensive telephone survey data from 2,599 households, the paper estimates the status of food insecurity using the food insecurity experience scale in rural households in eastern India. The results indicate that households belonging to lower social strata with less land and fewer years of education are more likely to suffer from food insecurity.


The SRS Data on Early Childhood Mortality in India

Researchers have evaluated the quality of Sample Registration System data in the past and found errors in the estimated under-fi ve mortality rate. Discrepancies were observed in the age-specifi c death rates at ages 0–1 and infant mortality rate for India and state published by the Offi ce of the Registrar General of India in the SRS statistical report for 2018 and it was found that the published IMR and U5MR in the statistical report of many of the states are substantially different from the estimated IMR and U5MR in the life table constructed from the ASDRs published by the ORGI. Such errors are likely to incorrectly measure mortality gaps across population subgroups, for example, gender.

Well Worth the Effort

More than 1,00,000 wells were sanctioned for construction under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Jharkhand during the last few years. This study evaluates the outcome of this well-construction drive through a survey of nearly 1,000 wells in 24 randomly selected gram panchayats. A majority of sanctioned wells (60% with parapet and 70% without) were completed at the time of the survey. Nearly 95% of completed wells are being utilised for irrigation, leading to a near tripling of agricultural income of those in the command area. The real rate of return from these wells in Jharkhand is estimated to be close to 6%, a respectable figure for any economic investment. However, well construction involves some out-of-pocket expenses and this investment is risky: nearly 12% of the wells were abandoned midway.

Biotechnology: Need for Reliable Statistics

Despite efforts by various agencies to collect statistics on biotechnology, there is a paucity of reliable data leading to confounding estimates of the size of the industry. India needs to urgently evolve a universally acceptable definition and construct a framework for collecting data.

Madhya Pradesh : Undernutrition and Starvation Deaths

An investigation of undernutrition and suspected starvation deaths in a few selected villages of Barwani district in Madhya Pradesh, a chronically drought-prone region, has thrown up a number of issues impinging on the concepts, methods and processes used for measuring of malnutrition and starvation.

Explaining Cross-Country Variation in Income Inequality

Most earlier studies exploring the cross-ountry variation in the degree of income inequality (measured by Gini ratio) are valuable but for the inappropriate data on inequality comprising estimates of Gini from incomparable data sets such as national and sub-ational surveys, per person and per household income distributions, and income and expenditure distributions. This paper explores the cross-ountry variation in income inequality based on relatively more comparable data and suggests that public policy aimed at reducing inequality and freedom may be the key variables that explain the variation in the Gini across countries. Prospects for launching national policy initiatives to reduce inequalities are rather dim since globalisation could be conveniently used to rationalise a relatively high level of income inequality.

Poverty in India in the 1990s

The authors examine the poverty situation in 15 major states across four distinct dimensions of headcount ratio, size of the poor population, depth and severity for the rural, the urban and the total population. The poverty situation, they find, worsened over the six-year period 1993-94 to 1999-2000 in Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. In the remaining 12 states there was a distinct improvement in terms of the most visible indicator, namely, the absolute size of the poor population. Overall, despite diversity across poverty indicators and across states, the overwhelming impression is one of greater improvement in the poverty situation in the 1990s than in the previous 10�½-year period.

Back to Top