Essays In Labor And Development Economics In India
This dissertation consists of five distinct chapters that answer questions in labor and development economics in the Indian context. These five chapters are divided into two sections - the first deals with empirical questions, and the second with theoretical models. The first essay studies the impact of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) on the risk-taking behavior of farmers in India. In the context of a rural economy with very low access to formal credit and insurance, this Act provides a sizable increase in incomes. We argue that the Act does not compete with private employment, and eases either credit or insurance constraints, or both. The introduction of this Act results in an increase in the riskiness of the portfolio of crops grown at the district level, suggesting that the additional income allows farmers to invest in riskier but potentially higher return technologies. The second essay uses household-level information from rural India to study the impact of changes in the opportunity cost of a mother's time on timeintensive health investments in her children. Negative rainfall shocks decrease the size of the harvest and the need for female labor, thereby increasing the amount of time these mothers have to spend on their children. I show that negative rainfall shocks in households where the mother works increase the probability of the child being vaccinated and of breastfeeding being initiated, and decrease the probability of the child dying at a young age. The second section of my dissertation consists of theoretical modeling of the Indian labor market. The first essay in this section provides an introduction to the literature on Indian labor markets. The second essay builds a model of the rural labor market, with seasonality in agricultural production and intertemporal spillovers in productivity, and studies the welfare implications of the introduction of the NREGA. The final essay is a model outlining the linkages between the rural and urban sectors in a stylized model of the Indian labor market. It incorporates the circular nature of rural-urban migration, and studies the welfare impact of the introduction of the NREGA into such an economy.
development; employment guarantee; labor
Abowd,John Maron; Berry,James Wesley; Vilhuber,Lars; Basu,Arnab K.
Ph. D., Economics
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis