Socio-Economic Characterization of Rural Households: A Village Level Analysis in Bihar, India

54 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2015

See all articles by R. K. Singh

R. K. Singh


Krishna M. Singh

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University

Abhay Kumar

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

Date Written: February 21, 2015


The study has examined the changing socio-economic scenario of rural households in Bihar, India. This study is based on the high frequency primary data collected at household, level collected by resident investigators under the ICAR-ICRISAT collaborative project on “Tracking Change in Rural Poverty in Household and Village Economies in South Asia”. The data used in this paper pertains to four villages of Bihar. In India, poverty is conventionally defined in terms of income poverty. The Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is also being used to measure the incidence of poverty. During the mid to late 1990’s, the country experienced tremendous economic growth, particularly in industrial and service sectors. Many individuals have suggested that poverty fell considerably during 1990’s due to trickle down effects. But the substantial regional differences in economic growth and human development indicators within India are also cause of great concern. Even within states, urban and rural sectors show a considerable disparity.

There is dominance of backward castes in villages of Bihar. The majority of population belong to young category and literacy level increased to 78 per cent. But there is wide-gap between male and female literacy. Incidence of malnutrition is very high in villages. More than 90 per cent children are underweight in study villages. The incidence of malnutrition (underweight population) has been almost identical across the villages and categories of households. Size of land holding is small and distribution of land skewed. Tenancy is prevalent in villages. Dairy production is the second important economic activity and there is higher incidence of cattle and buffalo rearing in the area under study. Extent and incidence of are much higher and a substantial proportion migrants are engaged in either daily wage employment or in salaried job including contractual job. Workers constitutes about one-third of population and the majority of them are engaged in non-farm work. Asset poverty is common and land emerged as the most important assets followed by dwelling house and livestock on all categories of households. The majority of households do not have access to institutional source of credit and they availed credit from non-institutional source and paying exorbitant rate of interest.

Hence, it may be surmised that socio-economic status is still poor in area under study. There is skewed distribution of assets including livestock. Non-farm emerged as an important source of employment and migration became an important survival strategy due to small area of land and unavailability of employment opportunity in villages. There is a lack of institutional support including through credit agencies.

Keywords: Socio-economic, Village study, Rural households, Bihar

JEL Classification: j10

Suggested Citation

Singh, Ram Kewal and Singh, Krishna M. and Kumar, Abhay, Socio-Economic Characterization of Rural Households: A Village Level Analysis in Bihar, India (February 21, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Ram Kewal Singh (Contact Author)

ICAR-RCER, Patna ( email )

ICAR Campus
Patna, Bihar 800014
+91-9934870914 (Phone)

Krishna M. Singh

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University ( email )

Pusa-Samastipur, Bihar, Bihar 848125
+91-9431060157 (Phone)
+91-6274-240251 (Fax)


Abhay Kumar

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) ( email )

Krishi Bhavan
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road

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