The Opportunity Gaps in Rural and Urban India

Opportunity-gapsPost liberalization, during the economic growth period, India witnessed an increase in both inter-state and within-state inequality. Inequality is traditionally measured using consumption, income, or wealth indicators. Studies comparing the pre and post reform period in terms of rural-urban residences, employment, education level, and consumption etc. from the analysis of the NSSO’s data have suggested various trends. Inequality is a resultant of a host of other outcomes, production factors, and services that influence social and economic advancement. A scheduled caste girl in rural Bihar doesn’t have access to the same opportunities as a boy belonging to the upper castes in New Delhi. Equality of opportunity in a given society is usually tested by investigating whether the outcome distributions conditional on circumstances are different. It is generally termed as unfair when the potential of achieving these outcomes is determined simply by the lottery of birth. In an ideal world, inequality in outcomes should reflect only differences in effort and choices that individuals make along with luck and talent.


The objective of this study is to capture the opportunity gaps experienced by rural individuals compared to their urban counterparts in India. By opportunity we mean, existence and access to a particular service despite the socio-economic conditions of an individual. We have identified a set of circumstances which are exogenous to an individual but affect his/her overall development such as caste, religion, gender, geographic location of birth (rural-urban residence), no. of siblings, parent’s education and wealth status of the household. The focus of the study is to explore various gaps in opportunities for rural and urban youth related to education and livelihood.