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Image: Shutterstock.com

Image: Shutterstock.com

Progress and Change in India

26 September 2019

4 mniutes read

The Research School of Economics’ (RSE) Centre for Economic History recently hosted the “Progress and Change in India” conference, bringing together subject matter experts from around the globe to discuss economic development in India.

The meeting, organised by Centre Director Professor Tim Hatton, showcased a diverse range of research being undertaken at the intersection of history and economics, which exploits modern experimental techniques and analyses newly created data sets.

The conference explored the role of India’s history in shaping the country’s current economic and social structure. It also investigated the political economy of contemporary issues related to gender, education and infrastructure.

Amongst the research featured was some current work from RSE’s John Mitchell Economics of Poverty Lab, exploring gender bias in India and its relationship with female participation in political leadership, an issue that influences a range of socioeconomic outcomes.

Dr Sutanuka Roy found that in more gender-biased districts, women were more likely to vote for female candidates, and so the emergence of female politicians need not be constrained by slowly changing gender norms.

Another project from a collaboration between the Lab and Oxford University examines the effect of the 1929 act that raised India’s minimum age of marriage for girls to 14. Initially, it only applied in states ruled directly by the British, and not in the princely states under local rule, making it a good context for a comparative study. The initial effect was a rise in the marriage rate of girls in anticipation of the law, but the long-term effects of lower teenage marriage and the resulting higher educational enrolment among females persisted in former direct rule districts right up to the end of the century.

Other work presented at the conference also focused education, looking at the effect that variations in price had on enrolment in private after-school tutoring and its limited effect on test scores. Another project traced the persistent effects of conflicts between states in pre-colonial India. These wars created a legacy of increased state capacity and infrastructure-building that is still evident in local development, measured by satellite imagery of night-time brightness.

The “Progress and Change in India” conference is a fine example of the College’s commitment to academic collaboration and support for research that benefits society. The College welcomes the participation of ANU alumni and those from industry and government in these events, and encourages them to get in touch about opportunities for collaboration.

 A comprehensive description of all the work presented at the conference can be found in the Centre for Economic History newsletter.

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Updated:   5 November 2019 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team