Caste System Effect on Poverty in Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka

CasteSystem: Effect on Poverty in Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka

CasteSystem: Effect on Poverty in Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka

Introductionand Hypothesis

Acaste system is a classification of a class determined by birthgenerally, it means that if an individual is born to poor parentsthen they are going be underprivileged. The system’s effects arestill evident in countries such as India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka (TheWorld Bank, 2014). The caste system is one of the key contributors topoverty in most South Asian countries, particularly India, Nepal, andSri Lanka. How then does the caste system, which is characterized bysocial hierarchies, have an effect on poverty levels? The people inthe bottom of the social hierarchy are poorer due to the unequalopportunities as compared to the citizens in the higher positions ofthe societal ladder.


Thereis a large amount of literature on how the caste system affectspoverty levels in countries with such structures in place. Rao (2010)states that the caste system established in India automaticallyplaced the lower class citizens in a situation where poverty wasinevitable. She further states that these lower caste people(“Dalits”-name used to refer to the lower caste population)experienced discrimination, which made it difficult for them to havea regular income hence, the extreme poverty. Rao (2010) alsodiscusses how colonization shaped the caste system in Sri Lanka toits present state and the impacts of the structure on low-classpeople in the country. According to Patel (2012), the incidence ofpoverty is higher in the lower caste populations in Nepal. He goes onto state that there is credible proof of convergence between socialhierarchy and levels of poverty.


Studieshave shown that there is a significant correlation between the socialclass hierarchy position and the quality of life. The caste system isall about the social class classification and that is where the issueof inequality occurs. Patel (2012) proves that there is a highincidence of poverty in the people from the bottom of the socialhierarchy. The theory that best explains the connection between thelevels of poverty and caste systems is the modernization hypothesis.It argues that the levels of poverty remain constant in some nationssince they hold on to traditional beliefs and attitudes in thiscase, the caste systems.


Insummation, a caste system is a classification of socialclassdetermined by birth generally, it means that if an individual isborn to poor parents then they are going be unfortunate those fromrich families will maintain the same. The system is characterized byinequality and, hence it is the main contributor of increasingpoverty levels in countries such as Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka.Authors like Rao (2010) and Patel (2012) concur with the fact thatthe caste system is among the main contributors tohigh levels ofpoverty. The modernization theory best explains the link between thelevels of poverty and caste systems. It argues that the levels ofpoverty remain constant in some nations since they hold on totraditional beliefs and attitudes such as the caste systems.


Patel,S. Prasad. &quotPoverty incidence in Nepal by caste/ethnicity:Recent levels and trends.&quot AcademicVoices: A Multidisciplinary Journal2.1 (2013): 59-62.

Rao,Jasmine. &quotThe caste system: Effects on poverty in India, Nepaland Sri Lanka.&quot GlobalMajority E-Journal1.2 (2010): 97-106.

TheWorld Bank. (2014). AddressingInequality in South Asia:New York: World Bank Publications.