The standard of living in India varies from state to state. In 2021, extreme poverty was fully eradicated to as low as 0.8%[1] and India is no longer the nation with the largest population under poverty.[2]

There is significant income inequality within India, as it is simultaneously home to some of the world's richest people.[3] The average wages are estimated to quadruple between 2013 and 2030.[4]

The standard of living in India shows large geographical disparity as well. For example, on one hand most metropolitan cities and other urban and suburban regions boast world-class medical establishments, luxurious hotels, sports facilities and leisure activities similar to that of first world developed nations, while there is significant poverty in rural areas of India, where medical care tends to be very basic or unavailable because of lack of doctors. Similarly, the very latest machinery may be used in most construction projects, but some construction workers work without mechanization in some projects, mostly in very rural parts.[5] However, a rural middle class is now emerging in India, with some rural areas seeing increasing prosperity.[6]

As per the IMF's World Economic Outlook for 2020, the per capita PPP-adjusted GDP for India was estimated to be US$9,027.[7]


Main article: Poverty in India

24.3% of the population earned less than US$1 (PPP, around US$0.25 in nominal terms) a day in 2005, down from 42.1% in 1981.[8][9] 41.6% of its population (540 million people approx.) is living below the new international poverty line of $1.25 (PPP) per day, down from 59.8% in 1981.[8] India, in 2019 has about 2.7%[1] population under poverty level and is no longer holding the largest population under poverty level, considering Nigeria and Congo.[2] On the other hand, the Planning Commission of India uses its own criteria and has estimated that 27.5% of the population was living below the poverty line in 2004–2005, down from 51.3% in 1977–1978, and 36% in 1993–1994.[10] The source for this was the 61st round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) and the criterion used was monthly per capita consumption expenditure below  356.35 for rural areas and  538.60 for urban areas. 75% of the poor are in rural areas, most of them are daily wagers, self-employed householders and landless labourers.

Although The Indian economy has grown steadily over the last two decades, its growth has been uneven when comparing different social groups, economic groups, geographic regions, and rural and urban areas.[11] For the year 2015–16, the GSDP growth rates of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh was higher than Maharashtra, Odisha or Punjab.[12]

Since the early 1950s, successive governments have implemented various schemes, under planning, to alleviate poverty, that have met with partial success. Programmes like Food for work and National Rural Employment Programme have attempted to use the unemployed to generate productive assets and build rural infrastructure.[13] In August 2005, the Indian parliament passed the Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, the largest programme of this type, in terms of cost and coverage, which promises 100 days of minimum wage employment to every rural household in 200 of India's 600 districts. The Indian government is planning to bring in more economic reforms which can help farmers and unskilled labourers transition into industrialised sectors.

See also: List of Indian states by life expectancy at birth

Physical infrastructure

Main articles: Transport in India and Water supply and sanitation in India

Pictured here, is the New Delhi Metro, operational since 2002 and seen as a model for other metros.

Since independence, India has allocated nearly half of the total outlay of the five-year plans for infrastructural development. Much of the total outlay was spent on large projects in the area of irrigation, energy, transport, communications and social overheads. Development of infrastructure was completely in the hands of the public sector and was plagued by corruption, bureaucratic inefficiencies, urban-bias and an inability to scale investment.[14] Kolkata was the first city in India to boast of a metro-system. The government has partially opened up infrastructure to the private sector allowing foreign investment. India holds second position in the world in roadways' construction.

As of 2018, there were an estimated 18,170,000 broadband lines in India. The country boasts the second highest number of internet users at 446.75 million which translates to around 35% of the country's population. [15]

A 2007 study by the Asian Development Bank showed that in 20 cities the average duration of water supply was only 4.3 hours per day. No city had a continuous water supply. The longest duration of supply was 12 hours per day in Chandigarh, and the lowest was 0.3 hours per day in Rajkot.[16]

A study by WaterAid estimated as many as 157 million Indians live without adequate sanitation. India comes top for having the greatest number of urbanites living without sanitation.[17]

Regional imbalance

Main article: Administrative divisions of India

One of the critical problems facing India's economy is the sharp and growing regional variations among India's different states and territories in terms of per capita income, poverty, availability of infrastructure and socio-economic development. For instance, the difference in growth rate between the forward and backward states was 0.3% (5.2% & 4.9%) during 1980–81 to 1990–91, but had grown to 3.3% (6.3% & 3.0%) during 1990–91 to 1997–98.[18]

The five-year plans have attempted to reduce regional disparities by encouraging industrial development in the interior regions, but industries still tend to concentrate around urban areas and port cities. Even the industrial townships in the interiors, Bhilai for instance, resulted in very little development in the surrounding areas.[19] After liberalisation, the disparities have grown despite the efforts of the union government in reducing them. Part of the reason being that manufacturing and services and not agriculture are the engines of growth. The more advanced states are better placed to benefit from them, with infrastructure like well developed ports, urbanisation and an educated and skilled workforce which attract manufacturing and service sectors. The union and state governments of backward regions are trying to reduce the disparities by offering tax holidays, cheap land, etc., and focusing more on sectors like tourism, which although being geographically and historically determined, can become a source of growth and is faster to develop than other sectors.[20][21]

See also: List of Indian states and union territories by GDP

Material prosperity

Product Percentage of household ownership
Air Conditioner 9%[22]
Refrigerator 40%[23]
Microwave 5%[24]
Television 87%[25]
Washing Machine 13%[26]
PC 24% [27]
Smartphone 93%[28]
Car 7%[29]
Two Wheeler Almost 33%[30]
Internet 45%[28]

By Gender–

  • Male- 67%
  • Female- 33%[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b "World Poverty Clock".
  2. ^ a b "India is no longer home to the largest number of poor people in the world. Nigeria is. - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ "Middle class growth in emerging markets - China and India: Tomorrow's middle classes - EY - Global". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Average wages in India could quadruple by 2030: PwC report". 30 September 2013.
  5. ^ Labouring Brick by Brick: A Study of Construction Workers Archived 5 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine –
  6. ^ "Rural areas see middle class rise". Deccan Herald. 4 July 2015.
  7. ^ "World Economic Outlook – GDP per capita". International Monetary Fund. October 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b "The developing world is poorer than we thought, but no less successful in the fight against poverty". World Bank. 2008. Archived from the original on 23 March 2009.
  9. ^ "India has fewer poor people: World Bank". Business Standard.
  10. ^ Poverty estimates for 2004–05, Planning commission, Government of India, March 2007. Accessed: 25 August 2007
  11. ^ "Inclusive Growth and Service delivery: Building on India's Success" (PDF). World Bank. 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2007.
  12. ^ "AP stands 1st in India in GSDP growth rate". The Times of India. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Economic Survey 2004–2005". Retrieved 15 July 2006.
  14. ^ Sankaran, S (1994). Indian Economy: Problems, Policies and Development. Margham Publications. ISBN.
  15. ^ "India - The World Factbook". Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  16. ^ 2007 Benchmarking and Data Book of Water Utilities in India (PDF). Asian Development Bank. 2007. p. 3. ISBN 978-971-561-648-5.
  17. ^ "Overflowing Cities: 157 Million Indians Still Without Toilets". 27 November 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  18. ^ Datt, Ruddar & Sundharam, K.P.M. "27". Indian Economy. pp. 471–472.
  19. ^ Bharadwaj, Krishna (1991). "Regional differentiation in India". In Sathyamurthy, T.V. (ed.). Industry & agriculture in India since independence. Oxford University Press. pp. 189–199. ISBN 0-19-564394-1.
  20. ^ Sachs, D. Jeffrey; Bajpai, Nirupam & Ramaiah, Ananthi (2002). "Understanding Regional Economic Growth in India" (PDF). Working paper 88. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2007. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ Kurian, N.J. "Regional disparities in india". Retrieved 6 August 2005.
  22. ^ AFP (4 December 2018). "How India's expected AC explosion will make world hotter". mint. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  23. ^ "India: refrigerator market penetration rate 2009-2020". Statista. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  24. ^ Pandit, Virendra. "Panasonic sees growth in microwave oven market". @businessline. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  25. ^ "India: penetration rate of home appliances". Statista. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  26. ^ "India: penetration rate of home appliances". Statista. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  27. ^ "India: Online". 5 May 2020. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  28. ^ a b "Internet Penetration in India". statista. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  29. ^ "22 cars per 1000 individuals in India:-NITI Aayog". Auto Economic Times—India Times. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  30. ^ "One in three households own a Two Wheeler in India–(⅓)". 11 December 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  31. ^ "India: Online& The Gender Gap of Internet Access". 5 May 2020. Retrieved 27 August 2021.