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Evaluating workfare when the work is unpleasant : evidence for India's national rural employment guarantee scheme

  • Lagrange, Arthur Alik
  • Ravallion, Martin

Prevailing practices in evaluating workfare programs have ignored the disutility of the type of work done, with theoretically ambiguous implications for the impacts on poverty. In the case of India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, past assessments have relied solely on household consumption per person as the measure of economic welfare. The paper generalizes this measure to allow for the disutility of casual manual work. The new measure is calibrated to the distribution of the preference parameters implied by maximization of an idiosyncratic welfare function assuming that there is no rationing of the available work. The adjustment implies a substantially more"poor-poor"incidence of participation in the scheme than suggested by past methods. However, the overall impacts on poverty are lower, although still positive. The main conclusions are robust to a wide range of alternative parameter values and to allowing for involuntary unemployment using a sample of (self-declared) un-rationed workers.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6272.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6272
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  1. Jha, Raghbendra & Bhattacharyya, Sambit & Gaiha, Raghav & Shankar, Shylashri, 2009. ""Capture" of anti-poverty programs: An analysis of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Program in India," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 456-464, September.
  2. Martin Ravallion & Gaurav Datt, 1995. "Is Targeting Through a Work Requirement Efficient? Some Evidence for Rural India," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-41, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  3. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1998. "Farm productivity and rural poverty in India," FCND discussion papers 42, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. Deaton, Angus, 1989. "Rice Prices and Income Distribution in Thailand: A Non-parametric Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(395), pages 1-37, Supplemen.
  5. Jha, Raghbendra & Gaiha, Raghav & Pandey, Manoj K., 2012. "Net transfer benefits under India's rural employment guarantee scheme," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 296-311.
  6. Michael Lokshin, 2006. "Difference-based semiparametric estimation of partial linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(3), pages 377-383, September.
  7. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1992. "Growth and redistribution components of changes in poverty measures : A decomposition with applications to Brazil and India in the 1980s," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 275-295, April.
  8. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav & Chaudhuri, Shubham, 1993. "Does Maharashtra's Employment Guarantee Scheme Guarantee Employment? Effects of the 1988 Wage Increase," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 251-75, January.
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