Data

Historical Indian NSDP Data by State

Many Indian states have populations larger than most countries worldwide. However, in my experience, easily usable open-source data on economic output by state over time can be surprisingly difficult to find. In an effort to understand spatial differences in economic growth across India, I collated a number of publicly-available datasets to produce estimates of real per capita net state domestic product (NSDP) in 2022 Indian rupees by state and year from 1980 to 2022. I have posted a Stata file with these estimates below for anyone who wants to use them for research purposes:

Real NSDP per capita by state

Please credit me if you use the data and share if you make any improvements. These data have not undergone any sort of peer review or professional quality checking procedures (this was more of a side project for me), so please don't hold me liable for any mistakes! For anyone who is curious, I have written up a brief note on methodology here.

One takeaway I had once I put together all the data was that different regions of India appear to have grown at markedly different rates over the last ~40 years. I divided the country into six broad geographic regions, each averaging a population of 230 million people, and then computed the compound annual real per capita NSDP growth rate over 1980-2022. 

As can be seen from the figures below, South India has grown at a notably faster rate than the rest of the country — the region has grown at nearly 6% a year for four decades. By contrast, the growth rate in North Central India (undivided Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) was barely half that amount, or nearly 2.5 percentage points lower each year for 42 years. The rest of the country grew at around 4-4.5% a year right around the national average.

According to the World Bank, India's GDP per capita was $2090 in 2022. If the entire country had hypothetically grown at the same rate as South India from 1980 to 2022, India's GDP per capita would have been $4353 in 2022 — or 108% higher than it actually was! India would be richer per person than Indonesia today, even though it started from a far lower base in 1980. By contrast, if all of India had grown at the same rate as the North Central region, national GDP per capita would have been $1636 in 2022 — still an impressive 4.2x increase compared to 1980, but 20% less than the actual figure today.