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Got Water? Social Divisions and Access to Public Goods in Rural India

  • Balasubramaniam, Divya


    (St. Joseph’s University)

  • Chatterjee, Santanu


    (University of Georgia)

  • Mustard, David B.


    (University of Georgia)

We use data for 436 rural districts from the 2001 Census of India to examine whether different aspects of social divisions help explain the wide variation in access to tap water across rural India. Studies linking social fragmentation to public goods usually aggregate different types of fragmentation into one index. In contrast, we use disaggregated measures of social fragmentation to show that different types of social fragmentation are associated with dramatically different outcomes for access to tap water in rural India. Communities that are heterogeneous in terms of caste (within the majority Hindu religion) have lower access to tap water than correspondingly homogeneous communities. Communities that are fragmented across religions have higher access to tap water than correspondingly homogeneous communities. This underscores the importance of heterogeneity both within and across religions. Therefore, relying on aggregate measures of social fragmentation may conceal different effects of the component measures and obscure important information regarding the design of policies related to public goods.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5977.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5977
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  1. Abhijit Banerjee & Rohini Somanathan, 2004. "The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 04-17, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  2. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer & Rohini Somanathan, 2007. "Public Action for Public Goods," NBER Working Papers 12911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
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  5. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "The origins of state capacity: property rights, taxation and politics," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33768, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2009. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 110, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  7. Petia Topalova & Esther Duflo & Rohini Pande & Lori Beaman & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, 2008. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," Working Papers id:1617, eSocialSciences.
  8. Jacob L. Vigdor, 2004. "Community Composition and Collective Action: Analyzing Initial Mail Response to the 2000 Census," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 303-312, February.
  9. Dayton-Johnson, Jeff, 2000. "Determinants of collective action on the local commons: a model with evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 181-208, June.
  10. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer & Rohini Somanathan, 2005. "History, Social Divisions, and Public Goods in Rural India," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 639-647, 04/05.
  11. Vigdor, Jacob L., 2002. "Interpreting ethnic fragmentation effects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 271-276, April.
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