In a recent post, Bindu Ananth of IFMR talks about why rural households pursue gold and land ownership. She shares very interesting data on asset ownership by households in villages with population of less than 5000, from Orissa, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu.
According to her:
In the absence of financial assets like fixed deposits, stocks and pension plans at these locations, rural households are forced to look at physical assets that will give them old age security and inflation protection, among other objectives. Land as an asset has many dimensions. Several of our labourer customers tell us that it is difficult to find wage labour opportunities beyond the age of 45 or so and then owning a piece of land becomes an important strategy to earn in the later years because you can always “hire yourself”. Similarly, in light of the heavy dependence on the local economy, gold is often the only “national asset” available to hedge against local economic downturns.