IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

In-kind transfers, marketization costs and household specialization: Evidence from Indian farmers


  • Nicholas Li


I examine the effect of in-kind staple transfers on agricultural production in a setting where transactions with markets are costly for households and result in interlinked consumption and production decisions. I leverage the expansion of India’s Public Distribution system between 1993-2009 as a natural experiment generating variation in the quantity and value of staple grains transferred to households and districts. I find that larger PDS quantities are associated with modest decreases in staple production and farming and modest increases in market/ comparative advantage oriented specialization. The effects are larger for households and districts with higher market transaction costs or less market-oriented agriculture.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Li, 2021. "In-kind transfers, marketization costs and household specialization: Evidence from Indian farmers," Working Papers tecipa-700, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-700

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Main Text
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dean Karlan & Robert Osei & Isaac Osei-Akoto & Christopher Udry, 2014. "Agricultural Decisions after Relaxing Credit and Risk Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 597-652.
    2. Van Leemput, Eva, 2021. "A passage to India: Quantifying internal and external barriers to trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C).
    3. Hirvonen,Kalle Valtteri & Hoddinott,John, 2020. "Beneficiary Views on Cash and In-Kind Payments : Evidence from Ethiopia's Productive Safety," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9125, The World Bank.
    4. Prasad Krishnamurthy & Vikram Pathania & Sharad Tandon, 2017. "Food Price Subsidies and Nutrition: Evidence from State Reforms to India’s Public Distribution System," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66(1), pages 55-90.
    5. Marcel Fafchamps, 1992. "Cash Crop Production, Food Price Volatility, and Rural Market Integration in the Third World," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 74(1), pages 90-99.
    6. Lauren Falcao Bergquist & Michael Dinerstein, 2020. "Competition and Entry in Agricultural Markets: Experimental Evidence from Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(12), pages 3705-3747, December.
    7. Daniel LaFave & Duncan Thomas, 2016. "Farms, Families, and Markets: New Evidence on Completeness of Markets in Agricultural Settings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1917-1960, September.
    8. Chatterjee, S., 2019. "Market Power and Spatial Competition in Rural India," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1921, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    9. José Pulido & Tomasz Swiecki, 2019. "Barriers to Mobility or Sorting? Sources and Aggregate Implications of Income Gaps across Sectors and Locations in Indonesia," 2019 Meeting Papers 1298, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dillon, Brian & Barrett, Christopher B., 2017. "Agricultural factor markets in Sub-Saharan Africa: An updated view with formal tests for market failure," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 64-77.
    2. Douglas Gollin & Christopher Udry, 2021. "Heterogeneity, Measurement Error, and Misallocation: Evidence from African Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 129(1), pages 1-80.
    3. Todd Benson & Tewodaj Mogues, 2018. "Constraints in the fertilizer supply chain: evidence for fertilizer policy development from three African countries," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 10(6), pages 1479-1500, December.
    4. Josephson, Anna & Ricker-Gilbert, Jacob, 2020. "Preferences and crop choice during Zimbabwe’s macroeconomic crisis," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 15(3), September.
    5. Nicolás de Roux & Luis Roberto Martínez, 2021. "Forgone Investment: Civil Conflict and Agricultural Credit in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 019236, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    6. Nicolás de Roux & Luis Martínez, 2021. "Inversión Perdida: Conflicto Civil y Crédito Agrícola en Colombia," Documentos CEDE 019622, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    7. Merfeld, Joshua D., 2020. "Smallholders, Market Failures, and Agricultural Production: Evidence from India," IZA Discussion Papers 13682, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Kopper, Sarah A., 2018. "Agricultural labor markets and fertilizer demand: Intensification is not a single factor problem for non-separable households," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274184, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. Jones,Maria Ruth & Kondylis,Florence & Loeser,John Ashton & Magruder,Jeremy, 2019. "Factor Market Failures and the Adoption of Irrigation in Rwanda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9092, The World Bank.
    10. Dhingra, Swati & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2020. "The Rise of Agribusiness and the Distributional Consequences of Policies on Intermediated Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 14384, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Dhingra, Swati & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2020. "The rise of agribusiness and the distributional consequences of policies on intermediated trade," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 108418, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Shamdasani, Yogita, 2021. "Rural road infrastructure & agricultural production: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).
    13. Ecker, Olivier & Hatzenbuehler, Patrick L. & Mahrt, Kristi, 2018. "Transforming agriculture for improving food and nutrition security among Nigerian farm households," NSSP working papers 56, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    14. Tesfaye, Wondimagegn & Tirivayi, Nyasha, 2020. "Crop diversity, household welfare and consumption smoothing under risk: Evidence from rural Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    15. Momanyi, Denis, 2016. "Analysis of the Marketing Behavior of African Indigenous Leafy Vegetables Among Smallholder Farmers in Nyamira County, Kenya," Research Theses 243443, Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    16. Wagener, Andreas & Zenker, Juliane, 2018. "Decoupled but not neutral: The effects of stochastic transfers on investment and incomes in rural Thailand," TVSEP Working Papers wp-008, Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, Institute of Development and Agricultural Economics, Project TVSEP.
    17. Miriam Bruhn & Dean Karlan & Antoinette Schoar, 2018. "The Impact of Consulting Services on Small and Medium Enterprises: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Mexico," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(2), pages 635-687.
    18. Bick, Alexander & Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola & Lagakos, David & Tsujiyama, Hitoshi, 2019. "Why are Average Hours Worked Lower in Richer Countries?," CEPR Discussion Papers 14180, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Jules Gazeaud & Victor Stephane, 2020. "Productive Workfare? Evidence from Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program," Working Papers 2037, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    20. Ariel BenYishay & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2014. "Social Learning and Communication," NBER Working Papers 20139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    agriculture; production; India; food; Public Distribution System; in-kind transfers;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-700. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: RePEc Maintainer (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.