Article | Economic & Political Weekly

Caste and Entrepreneurship in India

by Lakshmi Iyer, Tarun Khanna and Ashutosh Varshney


It is now widely accepted that the lower castes have risen in Indian politics. Has there been a corresponding change in the economy? Using comprehensive data on enterprise ownership from the Economic Censuses of 1990, 1998, and 2005, we document substantial caste differences in entrepreneurship across India. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are significantly under-represented in the ownership of enterprises and the share of the workforce employed by them. These differences are widespread across all states, have decreased very modestly between 1990 and 2005, and cannot be attributed to broad differences in access to physical or human capital.

Keywords: Equality and Inequality; Income; Entrepreneurship; Rank and Position; India;


Iyer, Lakshmi, Tarun Khanna, and Ashutosh Varshney. "Caste and Entrepreneurship in India." Economic & Political Weekly 48, no. 6 (February 9, 2013): 52–60.