Water scarcity and livelihoods in Bihar and West Bengal, India

Thiagu Ranganathan*, Ram Ranjan, Deepa Pradhan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Through a cross-sectional survey of 1600 households, we analyse the impact of water scarcity on livelihood patterns of rural households in three districts of Bihar and West Bengal. We find significant correlation between water scarcity and livelihood profiles. Households involved in farming and rural labour, or a mix of farming, rural labour and enterprises, earn 30–50% less than what they would have earned through alternative livelihoods. Yet, 50% of the sampled households were engaged in farming and rural labour. When accounting for endogeneity, urban migration provides much higher returns compared to rural labour supply or entrepreneurship.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)497-518
    Number of pages22
    JournalOxford Development Studies
    Issue number4
    Early online date12 Mar 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018


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