It is theoretically ambiguous whether growth of cities matters more to the rural poor than growth of towns. This paper empirically examines whether growth of India's secondary towns or big cities mattered more to recent rural poverty reduction, noting that data deficiencies have made this a difficult question to answer previously.

Longstanding development issues are revisited in the light of a newly-constructed data set of poverty measures for India spanning 60 years, including 20 years since reforms began in earnest in 1991. The study finds a downward trend in poverty measures since 1970, with an acceleration post-1991, despite rising inequality.

The authors revisit the findings of their past research on poverty and growth in India in the light of the 14 rounds of the National Sample Survey now available for the period since economic reforms began in 1991.

The extent to which India