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Continued Existence ofr Cows Disproves Central Tenets of Capitalism?

Listed author(s):
  • Dean Karlan

    ()

    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Santosh Anagol

    ()

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Alvin Etang

    ()

    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

We examine the returns from owning cows and buffaloes in rural India. We estimate that when valuing labor at market wages, households earn large, negative average returns from holding cows and buffaloes, at negative 64% and negative 39% respectively. This puzzle is mostly explained if we value the household’s own labor at zero (a stark assumption), in which case estimated average returns for cows is negative 6% and positive 13% for buffaloes. Why do households continue to invest in livestock if economic returns are negative, or are these estimates wrong? We discuss potential explanations, including labor market failures, for why livestock investments may persist.

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File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp1031.pdf
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Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 1031.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2013
Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1031
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  1. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
  2. Aggarwal, G.C. & Singh, N.T., 1984. "Energy and economic returns from cattle dung as manure and fuel," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 87-90.
  3. Garrett, Thomas A. & Sobel, Russell S., 1999. "Gamblers favor skewness, not risk: Further evidence from United States' lottery games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 85-90, April.
  4. Kristin Mammen & Christina Paxson, 2000. "Women's Work and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 141-164, Fall.
  5. Duncan, Greg J & Hill, Daniel H, 1985. "An Investigation of the Extent and Consequences of Measurement Error in Labor-Economic Survey Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 508-532, October.
  6. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2009. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 14693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.
  8. Mellow, Wesley & Sider, Hal, 1983. "Accuracy of Response in Labor Market Surveys: Evidence and Implications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 331-344, October.
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