Economic division in British India: An analysis of population dynamics

IDE Research Bulletin

March 2016

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Outputs of the project
This research project produced two papers. One is "Partition, Independence, and Population Geography in Bengal" as the main research paper for this project. The other is "Some Notes on the Spatial Representations", which is a technical note for the construction of spatial variables.

Brief summary of the project
International borders split spaces into different countries and add obstacles for trans-national transactions. The emergence of international borders in South Asia, where it was British India, after 1947 made substantial changes and has formed different countries. The purpose of this research project is to formally investigate the impacts of the emergence of "international border" and quantify the impacts by observing the dynamics of population distribution.

There is a theoretical prediction on the outcome of economic division. New Economic Geography emphasizes the agglomeration of economies through market access. Since economic division increases the trade costs and transport costs for international transactions, it negatively affects the market access of all regions. While border regions particularly negatively affected by losing proximate market, relative position of regions which are far from the international border increases and they could benefit from the economic division. This is the phenomena this research project investigates.

One of the challenges in this project was the data construction. During the last two years, we have gathered relevant census data and comparable data for further analysis. From the census volumes, we have gathered, scanned and digitalized the relevant tables. The data included the digitalization of district maps at British period. This task required lots of efforts. We have tried our best to collect the data other than census, which include materials classified in India Office Records.

From this research project, we have finalized two papers. One is “Partition, Independence, and Population Geography in Bengal" and the other is "Some Notes on the Spatial Representations". First paper is the main research in this project and the second paper is a technical note for the analysis with spatial variables.