The historical roots of India’s service-led development: a sectoral analysis of Anglo-Indian productivity differences, 1870–2000
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India fell further behind the UK in terms of GDP per capita and overall labour productivity between the 1870s and the 1970s, but has been catching-up since. This paper offers a sectoral analysis of these trends. Comparative India/UK labour productivity in agriculture has declined continuously, and agriculture still accounts for around two-thirds of employment in India. Agriculture thus played a key role in India’s falling behind and has subsequently slowed down the process of catching up. Although there have been substantial fluctuations in comparative India/UK labour productivity in industry, this sector has exhibited no long run trend. The only sector to exhibit an upward trend in comparative India/UK labour productivity is services. India’s recent emergence as a dynamic service-led economy thus appears to have long historical roots. Although India has been characterised by relatively low levels of physical and human capital formation overall, its education provision has historically been unusually skewed towards secondary and tertiary levels. This has provided a limited supply of high productivity workers who have been employed predominantly in services.