According to wealth index released on basis of data from fourth round of National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-4) Delhi is richest state and Jain wealthiest community in the country.
The NFHS-4 was conducted among more than 6 lakh households in 2015-16. It was largest sample size and was carried out just couple of years ago that provided useful source of information in analysing India’s socio-economic landscape.
The wealth index as part of NFHS-4 was prepared on basis of information of scores on ownership of consumer goods such as television and bicycles and household characteristics such as availability of clean drinking water.
This information was used to classify all households into wealth quintiles. Those in lowest quintile were poorest 20%, while those in top were richest 20% of lot. The report then used these quintile scores to classify population for states, caste and religious groups and rural-urban areas into each quintile.
State wise wealth Distribution: Delhi and Punjab are richest states with over 60% of their households in the top wealth quintile. They are followed by Goa with 54.5% households in top bracket. Bihar is poorest state half of its households in the bottom quintile. Rajasthan has most equitable wealth distribution with similar number of households in all quintiles.
Wealth distribution in religious groups: Jains are the most prosperous religious community in India with 70% of its population in the top quintile. Only 1.5% of Jain households fall in lowest two quintiles. Sikhs follow next, with 59.6% of their people in the top wealth quintile. Hindus and Muslims have similar and also most equitable wealth distribution across all quintiles.
Community wise wealth distribution: Upper castes in India have almost double families in top quintile as compared to any other caste. Scheduled tribes are the poorest with 45.9% of their people in lowest quintile.
Rural and Urban wealth: Poverty is predominantly a rural phenomenon in India. 29% of rural India belongs to bottom quintile, while it is just 3.3% for urban India. 29% of the rural population has wealth levels equivalent to bottom 20% of the country’s population.
Concern: High levels of income and wealth inequality are matter of great concern in India. NFHS-4 statistics on disparity in wealth-holdings across various categories shows that there cannot be one size fits all policy if the government is serious about addressing this problem.