Resource centre on India's rural distress

Number Theory: How much does an average Indian earn? -Abhishek Jha

-Hindustan Times

The average annual per capita income of households interviewed in the LASI survey conducted in 2017-18 is 44,901. This is just about 39% of the per capita income in the same year according to the National Account Statistics

India’s per capita annual income in 2019-20 was 1,26,968, according to provisional estimates published on January 7. This average, given India’s large income inequality, is not representative of the earnings of average Indians. Because India does not publish income statistics, and because consumption estimates, which are the next best proxy, have not been published since 2011-12, there is a debate around average incomes of Indians across class and social groups.

To be sure, private surveys such as the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) have published income statistics. However, they do not enjoy the sanctity of official data. The report on the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI), which was undertaken under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in 2017-18, is the first to given an idea about average incomes of Indians.

To be sure, LASI is based on a relatively small sample (42,249 households), and its reference frame is confined to households which had at least one person aged 45 years or higher.

Also, unit level data for LASI is yet to be released. These caveats notwithstanding, the results offer some interesting insights.

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