Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Chris Blattman's juxtaposition

I still cannot get over Chris Blattman's comment in his links post:
"In the US, subsidies for people to move from poor neighborhoods to better ones had positive long term outcomes (PDF) but Barnhardt, Field, & Pande find in India, taking people away from their social support networks is very disruptive and many people refused or left the program (PDF)."
My experience in Souith India, in a different conext, is somewhat different from the conclusions of the above above paper whose field work was done in U.P. in North India. This concerned an agricultural institue near Hyderabad which trained rural poor students with grade 10 educations. They were trained free of cost in more modern methods of agriculture for an year and it was hoped that they would go back and implement the new methods. Instead all took city jobs in agri-business.
So, what gives. The only thing I can think of is the family systems of Emmanuel Todd. He distinguishes the North and South Indian family systems as Exogamous Community Family and Assymetrical Community Family respectively. Part of the difference, outside Kerala which is more matrilinear, comes from the marriage stem where the children of brother and sister can marry. Apparently, this gives women a bigger role in the society though not as much as in matrilinear societies. I would guess that US would come under Absolute Nuclear Family like England. For Todd, two important causes of 'progress' (from what I could lean from 'The causes of progress') are literacy and status of women.
There have been criticisms that Todd is "grounded as it is in deterministic anthropological categories" as a recent review by Sarah Waters of 'Who is Charlie?'). In her review of 'The Causes of progress', Evelyn Rawski has similar criticism but goes on to say "The great value of Todd's book lies elsewhere: it forces scholars out of the increasingly narrow specializations in which we tend to spend our lives. We may disagree with Todd's interpretation and his facts, but we can learn a great deal from the structural comparisons he makes. If comparative studies are stimulated by books like this, we may eventually achieve a more satisfactory synthesis to explain the demographic, economic, and cultural changes that are central to the early modem and modem historical ages."
When there are such differences in different places coming from modern quantitative research, it may be useful to look at some of the factors that Emmanuel Todd has been pointing to.

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