Thursday, 16 May, 2024 | 14:00 | Room 402 | Applied Micro Research Seminar

Patrick Gaule (University of Bristol) "India’s Missing Billion"

Prof. Patrick Gaule

University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Join online: (Passcode: 3075)

Authors: Patrick Gaule, Ruchir Agarwal

Abstract: This paper quantifies the role of family background in who becomes an inventor in India — using the information content in surnames. Indian surnames typically contain information about one’s caste, religion, or geographic origin. Based on records of all adult Indians alive (~850 million individuals), a national survey of 130 million families, and historical registers from the British India civil service and university graduates in the 1850s, we develop a novel dataset to track inequality between family groups over time and space in India. We find that based on family background alone, the bottom two-thirds of India’s population (~1 billion individuals) have a very low chance of becoming an entrepreneur, inventor, scientist, or even participating in national entrance exams for top universities. This pattern is unique to India with no other major country having nearly as much name-based advantage in outcomes. Integrating marginalized communities will not only benefit the excluded communities within India but will also enable India to enhance its aggregate contribution to the global economy and the knowledge frontier.