Group Inequality in Democracies: Lessons from India and the United States
LUNCHEON 11:30 a.m., LECTURE 12:00 p.m.

Both India and the United States have had a history of sizable group inequalities, the salient social divide being race in the U.S. and caste in India. In both cases, the principal instruments of state policy have been the expansion of publicly provided goods and affirmative action programs. In spite of these broad similarities, the evolution of public policy in the two nations has been dramatically different. Professor Somanathan uses a comparative perspective to better understand the source of these differences and the potential of group-based preferential treatment in addressing inequality.

Rohini Somanathan is a professor of economics at the Delhi School of Economics and a Podlich Distinguished Visitor at Claremont McKenna College. Professor Somanathan’s interests lie at the intersection of Development Economics, Public Economics and Political Economy. A major strand in her research explores mechanisms through which public institutions and community behavior influence patterns of mobility and group inequality. This includes work on the politics of caste identities in India and racial segregation in the United States. Other projects include work on rural credit markets and microfinance institutions and on the wage and productivity effects of economic liberalization in India.