This study aims to thoroughly evaluate the impacts of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the largest public works project in the world. NREGS was started in 2006, following the 2005 Act that provides each rural household with a legal right to be employed up to 100 days per year at state-level minimum wage rate. NREGS has the following characteristics. First, it is demand-driven. Second, all rural households are eligible for NREGS and self-selection is the major mechanism to target the poor. Third, NREGS offers equal wage rates to women for the same work as men and makes payment directly to the individual workers. Fourth, NREGS projects are selected at the local level.
View more We aim to explore the following research questions:
1. Targeting and Implementation
How well does NREGS target its intended group? Are the poor (non-poor) self-selecting into (out of) the program, as intended?
2. Partial equilibrium effects
How does NREGS affect the labor allocation, migration, and welfare of its participants? Does participation in NREGS work “crowd out” participants’ labor supply for other purpose such as working on their own or neighbors’ fields?
3. General equilibrium effects and income distributional effects
What are the general equilibrium effects? And what are the distributional effects of NREGS over different types of households such as land owners, laborers, etc.?
4. Gender-specific effects
What are the gender-specific effects? We aim to provide evidence on the magnitude of economic and non-economic benefits derived by females in different income groups from NREGS and the mechanisms that may underlie such effects.
We use two existing data sets: a three-round (2004, 2006, and 2008) panel data set from 4,800 households in Andhra Pradesh and the National Sample Survey data which are collected annually and cover all districts in India.
To examine partial equilibrium effects, we compare NREGS participants with non-participants. Methodologically, we use propensity score matching, double (or triple) differences, and instrumental variable methods. To examine general equilibrium effects (or spillover effects), we explore the phase-in structure of NREGS implementation to compare non-participants in the treatment areas with non-participants in the control areas, using propensity score matching and double (or triple) differences.
The panel data will allow us to control for observed confounding factors, and to examine heterogeneous impacts due to initial conditions. Propensity score matching and instrumental variable methods are used to deal with the selection bias due to non-random program placement and self-selection of program participation.
While government spending on pro-poor community asset creation and income-transfers could have compounding positive effects on poverty reduction, it is important to first study trends in the allocation of funds, particularly as they relate to the susceptibility of the program to political clientelism. This paper uses expenditure data at the local level in Andhra Pradesh from India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, a rights-based program distributing both public and private goods, to investigate the relationship between voting outcomes and program intensity in the seven years straddling a major election. By focusing on one state where accountability and transparency mechanisms have been employed and implementation efforts have been applauded, the authors do not find evidence of blatant vote buying before the 2009 election but do find that patronage played a small part in fund distribution after the 2009 election. Indeed most variation in expenditures is explained by the observed needs of potential beneficiaries, as the scheme intended.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which guarantees employment of every rural household for 100 days, has different progressive provisions which incentivise higher participation of women in the programme. Official data suggest that 47% of all MGNREGA workers are women. This paper uses the National Sample Survey for the 68th employment-unemployment round (2011-12) to examine the performance of states in terms of participation and rationing of women in the programme relative to that of men. In addition, it documents these indicators from various sub-populations of women, including widows, mothers of young children, etc. who typically face serious constraints in the context of labour market participation.The study finds substantial variations both across states and sub populations implying the need for a differentiated policy focus across states to support women's access to and participation in the MGNREGA.
Are ostensibly demand-driven public programs less susceptible to political clientelism even when private goods are allocated? We investigate this conjecture using expenditure data at the local level from India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. By focusing on one state where accountability and transparency mechanisms have been employed and implementation efforts have been applauded, we do not find evidence of blatant vote buying before the 2009 election but do find that patronage played a small part in fund distribution after the 2009 election. Indeed most variation in expenditures is explained by the observed needs of potential beneficiaries, as the scheme intended.