Identity based policies and identity manipulation: evidence from Colonial Punjab
I study identity marker based policies in the context of identity manipulation: I measure the extent of identity manipulation caused by such a policy and describe the misallocation of public resource this can lead to in the context of colonial Punjab. In particular, I analyze the impact on caste identity manipulation of the creation of an “agricultural caste” category by the Punjab Alienation of Land Act (1901), the membership of which notably granted access to land distribution by the government. Using original data built from the census of Punjab from 1881 to 1921, I show, using various double and triple differences strategies, that a movement of caste identity manipulation took place in response to the law: ruling out alternative demographic interpretations, estimate that in 20 years, 7.5% of the population that had an incentive to do so manipulated its caste identity. Using a novel data set on land ownership by caste from 1911 to 1931, I then use an accounting exercise to estimate the amount of land misallocation caused by this manipulation between 3.9% and 8.2% of the total land distributed by the government.
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