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Equilibrium Distributional Impacts of Government. Employment Programs: Evidence from India's Employment Guarantee

  • Clément Imbert

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA) - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC))

  • John Papp

    (Princeton University [Pinceton])

This paper presents evidence on the equilibrium labor market impacts of a large rural workfare program in India. We use the gradual roll out of the program to estimate changes in districts that received the program earlier relative to those that received it later. Our estimates reveal that following the introduction of the program, public employment increased by .3 days per prime-aged person per month (1.3% of private sector employment) more in early districts than in the rest of India. Casual wages increased by 4.5%, and private sector work for low-skill workers fell by 1.6%. These effects are concentrated in the dry season, during which the majority of public works employment is provided. Our results suggest that public sector hiring crowds out private sector work and increases private sector wages. We use these estimates to compute the implied welfare gains of the program by consumption quintile. Our calculations show that the welfare gains to the poor from the equilibrium increase in private sector wages are large in absolute terms and large relative to the gains received solely by program participants. We conclude that the equilibrium labor market impacts are a first order concern when comparing workfare programs with other anti-poverty programs such as a cash transfer.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00680451.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00680451
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  1. Benjamin, Dwayne, 1992. "Household Composition, Labor Markets, and Labor Demand: Testing for Separation in Agricultural Household Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 287-322, March.
  2. Arnab Basu, 2013. "Impact of rural employment guarantee schemes on seasonal labor markets: optimum compensation and workers’ welfare," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-34, March.
  3. Cunha, Jesse & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Jayachandran, Seema, 2011. "The Price Effects of Cash Versus In-Kind Transfers," CEPR Discussion Papers 8581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Raghav Gaiha & Vani Kulkarni & Manoj Pandey & Katsushi Imai, 2009. "National rural employment guarantee scheme, poverty and prices in rural India," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 0908, Economics, The University of Manchester.
  5. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Kanbur, Ravi, 2009. "A theory of employment guarantees: Contestability, credibility and distributional concerns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 482-497, April.
  6. Porto, Guido G., 2006. "Using survey data to assess the distributional effects of trade policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 140-160, September.
  7. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-61, March.
  8. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1994. "Transfer Benefits from Public-Works Employment: Evidence for Rural India," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(427), pages 1346-69, November.
  9. Seema Jayachandran, 2005. "Selling Labor Low: Wage Responses to Productivity Shocks in Developing Countries," UCLA Economics Online Papers 370, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. Behrman, Jere R., 1999. "Labor markets in developing countries," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 43, pages 2859-2939 Elsevier.
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