Verghese Kurien Policy Lab

Work in Progress

Agentic feedback and quality of field survey data (Vivek Pandey, Elangbam Kyamba K)

Abstract: The field experiment is mounted on a household survey that will be collected as part of a baseline survey of a school milk program in Gujarat, India. The experimental design facilitates the estimation of the test effect and agentic feedback on the quality of survey data. Quality of survey data is assessed from high-frequency checks that are completed on each day of the field work. The potential channel for generic testing includes awareness while agentic feedbacks may trigger mechanisms such as motivation, self-confidence, and self-responsibility. The field experiment can examine the effect of frequent testing during survey trainings (T1 versus C) and variations in feedbacks on quality of survey data (T1 versus T2 and T2 versus C).

Abstract: The nutritional effects of school milk programs (SMPs) are well documented in the literature. However, not much has been explored on the front of mechanisms that influence the placement of SMPs at the level of local governments. The paper presents fresh evidence on the role of local governments and parent teacher associations (PTAs) within the ecosystem of SMPs and dairy cooperative societies in developing countries. We exploit plausible exogenous historical variations in the establishment of village-level dairy cooperative societies, naturally randomized political reservations for women in Indian local governments, and PTAs, as instruments to provide evidence on the impact of placement of SMPs on child stunting and malnutrition. While the likelihood of stunting and underweight among the school-going children exposed to SMPs is reduced by 14.6 and 14.3 percentage points respectively, the indirect effect of women’s reservation in local governments and existence of PTAs on the z-score of height for age and weight for age is 0.27σ and 0.19σ. We did not find any substantial impact on the wasting status.

Abstract: Multi-sectoral development interventions have intricate design elements and theories of change. These initiatives aim to engage numerous change agents and incentivize them to achieve desired developmental goals. While SHG-based interventions are not novel, the DAY-NRLM stands out due to its unique incorporation of local histories and the subsequent integration of crucial on-the-ground realities during the implementation phase. The objective of this report is to investigate and estimate the long run impacts of DAY-NRLM on various aspects of household welfare. Alongside analysing the lasting effects, we also aim to address pertinent policy-relevant inquiries.

Abstract: Literature in Economic Geography has consistently found that geography determines variations both in the intensity and diversity of economic activities. This implies that geography could be a significant constraint for the local economy to consistently develop over a period, by distorting the various types of input and output markets. Governments, over a period, have put in place policies that are expected to help overcome the adverse impacts of geography. For example, flood-prevention measures, drought-proofing, social forestry, construction of dams and effective canal systems are some such measures that have been put in place across river valley systems, cyclone, and flood-prone areas. However, such measures have been shown to have minimal effects on villages during actual episodes of cyclones, floods, droughts, and extreme temperatures. It has been found that households across such villages continue to be adversely affected and remain vulnerable despite such government policies.

We construct a panel of villages using REDS 1999 and 2006 rounds and SEPRI-I and II to estimate the extent to which exposure to formal banking systems can reduce the magnitude of impact of various types of shocks by compensating (i.e. FI is able to provide a mechanism for insurance such that the village-level utility is able to revert to the levels observed prior to the occurrence of the shock) for the adverse effects of geography. The implication of such a finding is that using policy instruments of the central or the state government to insure against adverse effects of geography is at-best a second-best solution and results in increasing the transactions costs arising out of variation in the quality of implementation of such instruments.

Abstract: Can increased women’s relative bargaining power within households improve household-level resilience to large scale covariate shocks such as COVID-19? Evidence suggests that enabling women to access market-linked-value-chains significantly increases their relative bargaining power within households. In this paper we estimate the extent to which a given stock of market enabled relative bargaining power of women (as measured in a laboratory experiment few months before the rollout of COVID-19) can enhance the resilience of rural households to COVID-19 shock. We make use of a unique data-generating process that combines data from two rounds of household surveys with the data from a laboratory experiment conducted with spouses inside rural dairy households. Evidence from the Bartik-like instrumental variable specification show that a unit improvement in women’s bargaining power led to 3.82% reduction in the vulnerability of households to food poverty during COVID-19 lockdown. The paper also models the role of food and nutrition decisions as pathways to reducing household vulnerability to food poverty during the pandemic.

Abstract: Public infrastructure projects are introduced by the government to help citizens benefit from increased economic activity and value creation. Canal placements create a network of water resources that sprung from dams and is also one of the major public projects that lead to substantial increase in farmers’ welfare and gross cultivated area. Given the constraint of geographical parameters, how does the government decide on the placement of canals in villages? We investigate if election outcomes prior to such placements are predictive of the location of canal placements after controlling for all geographical variables. Using decision tree, double ML IV, and a theoretical model, we investigate the data obtained from 224 villages of Gujarat under the command area of the canal, constituting 32 constituencies. We find that the political party at the village level takes into account the public project placement in their election-winning strategies.

Preliminary Abstract: The paper aims to understand embeddedness of farmers with the FPOs through the lens of joint dependency structure in economic value creation. We conduct analyses in an exploratory fashion to detect heterogeneous subgroups with varied characteristics and explain respective embeddedness using machine learning approaches.

Abstract: This paper estimates the impact of SRI adoption on household choices and child stunting and malnutrition using duration of adoption induced structural breaks (discontinuities). RDD estimates show that relatively early adopters among the group of late technology adopters are 9.33% more likely to choose private health care providers. Results from the dose response functions suggest that there is no change in the preference for public health care providers among the late adopters while early adopters have increased their likelihood of choosing public health providers by 4.70%. While the incidence of stunting declined by  for the children of late adopters and  for early adopters, malnutrition did not change for children of late adopters. Instead, it declined only for early adopters by . Our findings show that the duration of use of a new agricultural technology matter and not accounting for such duration effects can significantly underestimate the potential of adoption of technologies on household welfare.