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Spatially heterogeneous effects of a public works program

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  • Merfeld, Joshua D.

Abstract

Most research on labor market effects of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme focuses on outcomes at the district level. This paper shows that such a focus masks substantial spatial heterogeneity: treated villages located near untreated areas see smaller increases in casual wages than treated villages located farther from untreated areas. Spatial differences in implementation or program leakages do not appear to drive this spatial heterogeneity. The effects of the program on private-sector employment display similar intra-district heterogeneity and these effects on employment are highly correlated with the effect on wages. Overall, these results suggest that worker mobility leads a district-level focus to underestimate the true effect of the program on wages. Quantifying this underestimate using two separate methods produces very similar results; the overall effect on wages appears to be approximately twice as large as district-level estimates suggest.

Suggested Citation

  • Merfeld, Joshua D., 2019. "Spatially heterogeneous effects of a public works program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 151-167.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:136:y:2019:i:c:p:151-167
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2018.10.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Joshua D Merfeld, 2020. "Moving Up or Just Surviving? Nonfarm Self‐Employment in India," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 102(1), pages 32-53, January.
    2. Chatterjee, Jagori & Merfeld, Joshua D., 2020. "Protecting Girls from Droughts with Social Safety Nets," IZA Discussion Papers 13694, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Jules Gazeaud & Victor Stephane, 2020. "Productive workfare? Evidence from Ethiopia’s productive safety net program," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp2003, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia, NOVAFRICA.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    India; Public works; Labor; Wages; Spillovers;

    JEL classification:

    • D50 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - General
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market

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