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Irrigation as a Historical Determinant of Social Capital in India? A Large-Scale Survey Analysis

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  • von Carnap, Tillmann

Abstract

It is widely understood that the same policy interventions can have different outcomes depending on the social structures they are implemented in. Much less clear though is what fundamentally determines communities’ social capital, or the way individuals in a society interact. This study analyzes how irrigation practices, a key feature of agricultural organization in India, affect different indicators of social capital. To this end, an informative household survey is combined with detailed historical agricultural statistics on irrigation and grain cultivation. The depth of the datasets allows for fine-grained analysis of effects of different kinds of irrigation on groups with varying degrees of involvement in the agricultural production process. I show a significant negative influence of specific types of irrigation on the prevalence of conflict and an increased likelihood for attendance of public meetings, yet it is not possible to establish a broad and consistent relationship between agricultural indicators and social capital, which contradicts previous research. Furthermore, specific groups with varying incentive structures based on their land-holding status and agricultural engagement appear to be affected by different kinds of irrigation. The results underline the need for a multidimensional analysis of both social capital and agricultural organization, as well as their interaction. I do not find evidence supporting the rice theory of culture.

Suggested Citation

  • von Carnap, Tillmann, 2017. "Irrigation as a Historical Determinant of Social Capital in India? A Large-Scale Survey Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 316-333.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:95:y:2017:i:c:p:316-333
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.02.035
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    1. repec:eee:wdevel:v:113:y:2019:i:c:p:10-25 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:zbw:espost:184694 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Amirova, Iroda & Petrick, Martin & Djanibekov, Nodir, 2019. "Long- and short-term determinants of water user cooperation: Experimental evidence from Central Asia," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 10-25.

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