Displaying 15 Items

Missing Unmarried Women

(with Siwan Anderson), unpublished manuscript, November 2017.

Summary. We provide systematic estimates of the excess female mortality faced by older unmarried women in developing regions. We place these estimates in the context of the missing women phenomenon. There are approximately 1.5 million missing women between the ages of 30 and 60 years old each year. We find that 35% of these missing women of adult age can be attributed to not being married. These estimates vary by region. India has the largest proportion of missing adult women who are without a husband, followed by the countries in East Africa. By contrast, China has almost no missing unmarried women. We show that 70% of missing unmarried women are of reproductive age and that it is the relatively high mortality rates of these young unmarried women (compared to their married counterparts) that drive this phenomenon.

Anatomy of a Contract Change

with Rajshri Jayaraman and Francis de Vericourt, American Economic Review 106, 316-358, 2016Online Appendix.

SummaryWe study a contract change for tea pluckers. Base wages increased while incentive piece rates were lowered or kept unchanged. Yet, in the following month, output increased by 20–80%. This response contradicts the standard model, is only partly explicable by greater supervision, and appears to be “behavioral.” But in subsequent months, the increase is comprehensively reversed. Our findings suggest that behavioral responses may be ephemeral, and should ideally be tracked over an extended period. 

Implications of an Economic Theory of Conflict: Hindu-Muslim Violence in India

(with Anirban Mitra), Journal of Political Economy 122, 719-765, 2014.

Summary. We model intergroup conflict driven by economic changes within groups. We show that if group incomes are low, increasing group incomes raises violence against that group and lowers violence generated by it. We then apply the model to data on Hindu-Muslim violence in India. Our main result is that an increase in per capita Muslim expenditures generates a large and significant increase in future religious conflict. An increase in Hindu expenditures has a negative or no effect. These findings speak to the origins of Hindu-Muslim violence in post-Independence India. Online Appendix.

Gender Differentials in Eye Care: Access and Treatment

(with Rajshri Jayaraman and Shing-Yi Wang), Economic and Political Weekly 49 No. 25, June 21, 2014. 

Summary. Two potential sources of gender bias in health care are (a) females access treatment later than males and (b) they receive differential care at the medical facility. We explore both of these for eye care at a large Indian medical facility.  At presentation, women have worse diagnoses than men for indicators of symptomatic illness, such as myopia and cataract. There is no difference in treatment.

The Age Distribution of Missing Women in India

(with Siwan Anderson), Economic & Political Weekly 47, No. 47-48, December, 2012.

Summary. Relative to developed countries, there are far fewer women than men in India. Estimates suggest that among the stock of women who could potentially be alive today, over 25 million are “missing”. Sex selection at birth and the mistreatment of young girls are widely regarded as key explanations. We provide a decomposition of missing women by age across the states. While we do not dispute the existence of severe gender bias at young ages, our computations yield some striking findings. First, the vast majority of missing women in India are of adult age. Second, there is significant variation in the distribution of missing women by age across different states. Missing girls at birth are most pervasive in some north-western states, but excess female mortality at older ages is relatively low. In contrast, some north-eastern states have the highest excess female mortality in adulthood but the lowest number of missing women at birth.

Missing Women: Age and Disease

(with S. Anderson)Review of Economic Studies 77, 1262-1300, 2010. Online Appendix,

Summary. Relative to developed countries and some parts of the developing world, most notably sub-Saharan Africa, there are far fewer women than men in India and China. It has been argued that as many as a 100 million women could be missing. The possibility of gender bias at birth and the mistreatment of young girls are widely regarded as key explanations. We provide a decomposition of these missing women by age and cause of death. While we do not dispute the existence of severe gender bias at young ages, our computations yield some striking new findings: (1) the vast majority of missing women in India and a significant proportion of those in China are of adult age; (2) as a proportion of the total female population, the number of missing women is largest in sub-Saharan Africa, and the absolute numbers are comparable to those for India and China; (3) almost all the missing women stem from disease-by-disease comparisons and not from the changing composition of disease, as described by the epidemiological transition.

Uneven Growth: A Framework for Research in Development Economics

Journal of Economic Perspectives 24 (3), Summer, 45-60, 2010.

Summary. In many developing countries, economic growth has been fundamentally uneven. This article takes the reality of “uneven growth” seriously, and uses it as an organizing device for a research program in Development Economics.

Beyond Nandigram: Industrialisation in West Bengal

(with Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, Pranab Bardhan, Kaushik Basu, Mrinal Datta Chaudhuri, Maitreesh Ghatak, Ashok Sanjay Guha, Mukul Majumdar and Dilip Mookherjee), Economic and Political Weekly Commentary, April 2007.

Summary. If we are to learn the right lessons from the tragedy of Nandigram, then we must ensure that the government is involved in the land acquisition process and that we correctly deal with three sets of issues: the size and form of compensation, the eligibility for compensation and the credibility of the process.

Strategy for Economic Reform in West Bengal

(with Abhijit Banerjee, Pranab Bardhan, Kaushik Basu, Mrinal Datta Chaudhuri, Maitreesh Ghatak, Ashok Sanjay Guha, Mukul Majumdar and Dilip Mookherjee), Economic and Political Weekly Special Article, October 12, 2002

Summary. During the last two decades West Bengal has led the rest of the country with regard to agricultural performance and implementation of panchayat institutions. But these developments have begun to level out. This paper reviews performance of these different sectors, discusses possible explanatory factors, and makes a number of suggestions for policy reforms.

Inequality, Control Rights, and Rent Seeking: Sugar Cooperatives in Maharashtra

(with Abhijit Banerjee, Dilip Mookherjee and Kaivan Munshi), Journal of Political Economy 109, 138-190, 2001.

SummaryThis paper presents a theory of rent seeking within farmer cooperatives in which inequality of asset ownership affects relative control rights of different groups of members. . Predictions concerning the effect of the distribution of local landownership on sugarcane price, capacity levels, and participation rates of different classes of farmers are confirmed by data from nearly 100 sugar cooperatives in the Indian state of Maharashtra over the period 1971–93.

Labor Tying

(with Anindita Mukherjee), Journal of Development Economics 47, 207-239, 1995.

Summary. The co-existence of seasonal fluctuations in income and imperfect credit markets suggests that tied contracts should dominate rural labor markets. However,  empirical observation from India suggests that this is far from being the case, and indeed, that there is a declining trend in  labor tying. In our model,  casual labor markets are always active despite the presence of  seasonality, and a variety of implications are derived that  link economic growth, changing information flows, and the decline of labor tying over time.

Quantity Controls

(with Arunava Sen), in B. Dutta (ed), Welfare Economics and India, Oxford University Press, 1993.

Summary. We explore the role and necessity of quantity controls in decentralizing Pareto-optimal allocations in a market setting.

Wages and Involuntary Unemployment in the Slack Season of a Village Economy

(with Anindita Mukherjee), Journal of Development Economics 37, 227-264, 1992.

Summary. We model slack season wages in a village economy, in the presence of involuntary unemployment. Our model draws its inspiration from sociological notions of ‘everyday peasant resistance’.  A continuum of equilibrium wage configurations is obtained. These configurations, barring one, involve wages exceeding reservation wages, despite the presence of involuntary unemployment.

An Economic Theory of Malnutrition

(with Partha Dasgupta), in I.S. Gulati and M. Shroff (eds.), Economic Theory and Underdevelopment: Essays in Honour of I.G. Patel, 1986.

Summary. An initial, sketchy version of the Dasgupta-Ray papers on involntary unemployment and undernutrition.