Discussion Papers

No.590 Partition, Independence, and Population Geography in Bengal

by Abu S. Shonchoy and Kenmei Tsubota

March 2016


This study quantitatively explores the changing population geography in Bengal, with a particular focus on Partition in India in 1947 and Independence of Bangladesh in 1971. Based on decadal census data from 1901 to 2001 at the district level, this paper explores how trends in regional population growth evolved with such historical events. Following Redding and Sturm (2008), Differences-in-Differences estimation is also employed. Estimation results show that there were different shocks on both sides and from both events. In West Bengal, the change in the regional population trends occurred in 1947 and remained similar thereafter. On the other hand, in East Bengal, the population growth became statistically significant after 1971. Further robustness checks show that the impacts were not uniform with respect to the distance from the border. Overall analyses show that the emergence of the international border in Bengal had asymmetric impacts on both sides.

Keywords: regional population dynamics, border regions, partition and independence
JEL classification: F15, N95, R12, R23

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