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Faculty of Economics

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Bahal, G.

Employment Guarantee Schemes and Wages in India


Abstract: Using a novel data-set of district-wise program expenditure, we estimate the impact of large employment schemes on agricultural wages in India. Depending on the underlying theoretical mechanism, private wages can either respond to contemporaneous fluctuations in program expenditure or be sensitive to the stock of expenditure incurred under such programs. We first find that although program expenditure varied substantially both across and within districts, every district was covered under employment guarantee during the 2001-2010 period. Next, we empirically contrast the “spot” versus the “stock” effect of employment schemes on wages. Identification of program impact is achieved by partialling out a host of district and year specific controls. Exploiting the fund allocation process of these schemes, we further check for potentially endogenous district-year fluctuations. We find a significant positive impact on wages through the stock effect. In contrast, we do not find an immediate jump in wages suggesting weak spot effects.

Keywords: Public works, Workfare, NREGA, Public capital, Wages

JEL Codes: H53 I38 J31 J38

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