The purpose of this paper is to analyze the magnitude of caste discrimination in the Indian labor market. Caste-based division of society has been one of the longest and primary causes of social inequality in India, that has been enforced and legitimized by religion. One’s caste determines one’s economic and social opportunities, occupational choices and social status. Despite government efforts to ban caste discrimination and improve the socioeconomic status of discriminated lower caste communities through the reservation system, caste discrimination continues to prevail in society. To understand the extent to which caste identities influence market opportunities in the Indian labor market, this paper examines the differences in the impact of caste affiliation on wage inequality across India’s six administrative regions. The primary focus of this analysis is on understanding caste inequalities in higher paying occupations. The hypothesis tested is that educated lower caste workers will face less discrimination in regions that are more religiously diverse. To test this hypothesis, National Sample Survey data on employment and unemployment for the years 2004 and 2009 are used, to conduct a cross-sectional empirical analysis of the regional differences in wage inequality across different caste categories. This study adds to existing literature in two ways. First, comparing the data from 2004 and 2009 provides a more updated measure of the changes in caste inequalities. Second, empirically examining the geographic differences in the nature of caste divisions provides an additional framework to understanding the nature of caste discrimination in society today. This has the potential to inform future policy on combatting caste discrimination within the Indian labor market at a regional level.


Krause, Brooke


Global and International Studies


Arts and Humanities | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Caste Discrimination, India

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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