Birds of a feather flock together? Diversity and spread of COVID-19 cases in India

Udayan Rathore, Upasak Das, Prasenjit Sarkhel

Research output: Working paper


Arresting COVID infections requires community collective action that is difficult to achieve in a socially and economically diverse setting. Using district level data from India, we examine the effects of caste and religious fragmentation along with economic inequality on the growth rate of reported cases. The findings indicate positive effects of caste homogeneity while observing limited impact of economic inequality and religious homogeneity. However, the gains from higher caste homogeneity are seen to erode with the unlocking procedure after the nationwide lockdown. We find that community cohesion through caste effect is relatively dominant in rural areas even when mobility restrictions are withdrawn. Our findings indicate planners should prioritize public health interventions in caste-wise heterogeneous areas to compensate for the absence of community cohesion. The importance of our study lies in empirically validating the causal pathway between homogeneity and infection and providing a basis for zoning infection prone areas.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Manchester, Global Development Institute
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Caste
  • COVID-19
  • diversity
  • unlock
  • social cohesion
  • India

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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