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Title page for ETD etd-12012011-073919

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Mitra, Shabana
Author's Email Address shabana.singh@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-12012011-073919
Title Topics in measurement: multidimensional poverty and polarization
Degree PhD
Department Economics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Prof. James Foster Committee Co-Chair
Prof. Yanqin Fan Committee Co-Chair
Prof. Christopher Bennett Committee Member
Prof. Stephen P. Heyneman Committee Member
Prof. William Collins Committee Member
  • polarization
  • middle class
  • multidimensional poverty
  • India
Date of Defense 2011-10-07
Availability unrestricted
The main focus of this thesis is the study of distributional aspects of income and other dimensions of well-being. The first two essays pertain to the use of multidimensional poverty techniques. In the third essay I discuss a different distributional aspect, the middle class as captured by income polarization measures.

The essay “Re-Assessing “Trickle-Down” Using a Multidimensional Criterion: The Case of India” empirically gauges the extent of "trickle-down" accompanying the uneven-growth process for a developing country. To address concerns over the inequality in access to dimensions other than income, such as education, I use the Alkire and Foster (2010) class of measures. The findings suggest that equality across regions in terms of income is not synonymous with equality in standard of living. Also, contrary to income-based findings, Muslims are less poor than Hindus under the multidimensional criteria.

The second essay “Multidimensional Poverty: Measurement, Estimation, and Inference” provides a methodology to make multiple comparisons across groups, which can be used to check the robustness of the results obtained using the AF measure. The generalized AF class of multidimensional poverty measures gives rise to a host of statistical hypotheses which are of interest to applied economists and policy-makers alike. I show that these hypotheses can be treated in a unified manner and develop statistical tests based on the minimum p-value methodology of Bennett (2009).

The third essay “Electoral Uncertainty and the Growth of the "Middle Class": Theory and Evidence from India” investigates how the presence of electoral uncertainty contributes to the rise of a "middle-class" in the context of a developing country. The theory predicts that any increase in electoral uncertainty in a district not only increases aggregate transfers towards the district, but also promotes public expenditure which disproportionately benefits the poor. This in turn leads to lowering of income inequality and a rise of the "middle class". Our empirical exercise reveals that districts which have experienced tight elections exhibit lower income polarization and hence a larger middle class, in support of our theoretical model.

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