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  • Duflo, Esther
  • Pande, Rohini


The construction of large dams is one of the most costly and controversial forms of public infrastructure investment in developing countries, but little is known about their impact. This paper studies the productivity and distributional effects of large dams in India. To account for endogenous placement of dams we use GIS data and the fact that river gradient affects a district's suitability for dams to provide instrumental variable estimates of their impact. We find that, in a district where a dam is built, agricultural production does not increase but poverty does. In contrast, districts located downstream from the dam benefit from increased irrigation and see agricultural production increase and poverty fall. Overall, our estimates suggest that large dam construction in India is a marginally cost-effective investment with significant distributional implications, and has, in aggregate, increased poverty.

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  • Duflo, Esther & Pande, Rohini, 2005. "Dams," CEPR Discussion Papers 5325, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5325

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    dams; development planning; program evaluation;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O21 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Planning Models; Planning Policy

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