Displacement and development: Long term impacts of population transfer in India

Prashant Bharadwaj, Rinchan Ali Mirza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The partition of British India in 1947 resulted in one of the largest and most rapid migrations and population transfers of the 20th century. Using refugee presence by 1951 as a measure for the intensity of the impact of the population transfer, and district level data on agricultural output between 1911 and 2009 from India, we find using difference in differences and event study approaches that areas that received more refugees have higher average yields, are more likely to take up high yielding varieties of seeds, and are more likely to use agricultural technologies. The increase in yields and use of agricultural technology coincide with the timing of the Green Revolution in India. Using pre-partition data, we show that refugee placement is uncorrelated with soil and water table characteristics, agricultural infrastructure, and agricultural yields prior to 1947; hence, the effects are not explained by selective movement into districts with a higher potential for agricultural development. We highlight refugee literacy and land reforms in areas with refugees as two of the many potential mechanisms that could be driving these effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101273
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Agriculture
  • Partition
  • Population Exchange


Dive into the research topics of 'Displacement and development: Long term impacts of population transfer in India'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this