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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 16 No. 3 (Summer 2002)

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Economic History and Modern India: Redefining the Link

Article Citation

Roy, Tirthankar. 2002. "Economic History and Modern India: Redefining the Link." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(3): 109-130.

DOI: 10.1257/089533002760278749

Abstract

This paper argues that to restore the link between economic history and modern India, a different narrative of Indian economic history is needed. An exclusive focus on colonialism as the driver of India's economic history misses those continuities that arise from economic structure or local conditions. In fact, market-oriented British imperial policies did initiate a process of economic growth based on the production of goods intensive in labor and natural resources. However, productive capacity per worker was constrained by low rates of private and public investment in infrastructure, excessively low rates of schooling, social inequalities based on caste and gender and a delayed demographic transition to lower birthrates and the resultant heavy demographic burden placed on physical capital and natural resources.

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Roy, Tirthankar

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