Research



Working Papers:

"Environmental Shocks and Agriculture: Implications of Floods on Labor Market Outcomes" with Jayash Paudel and Ashok Mishra, R&R at Environment and Development Economics

Abstract: Floods often displace people and exacerbate their access to finance, affecting the livelihood of daily wage workers in least-developed countries. In August 2017, Nepal experienced the heaviest rainfall in more than 60 years, severely flooding about 80 percent of the land in the southern part of the country. Using the TWFE approach and an event study design, we evaluate the impact of severe flooding on the wages of agricultural workers. We show that the 2017 floods resulted in a 10-11 percent decrease in cash wages among agricultural households while in-kind wages of agricultural laborers increased significantly after the floods, implying that in-kind wages helped mitigate the adverse effects of floods on cash wages. We investigate changes in assistance, loan-seeking behavior, loan repayment, and collection behavior as a mechanism leading to the risk-mitigating behavior by farmers.

"Assessing the Impact of Industrial Mining on Economic Outcomes: Evidence from Peruvian Communitieswith Ashok Mishra and Joaquin Mayorga, R&R World Development

Abstract: This study investigates the impact of industrial mining on Peruvians’ economic outcomes (income, employment) and occupation choices. The study also assesses the effects of mining on farm output, crop choices, and labor allocation in rural Peruvian families. We use unique large private data on industrial mines in Peru, farm-level data from surveys, and the difference-in-difference method. Results suggest that active industrial mines in Peru increased the overall real per capita income by 15%. However, the increase in real per capita income was about 9% in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors of the economy. The real income per capita of unskilled workers increased by 15%. In the presence of active mining, Peruvians reduced employment in the agricultural sector (3.7%) and moved toward the manufacturing (2.5%) and retail (0.9%) sectors. Finally, in the presence of active mines, farm families increased the production of tuber crops (6%) and reduced the output of maize (3%). 

Abstract: In 2011, the Supreme Court of India banned iron ore mining in three districts of Karnataka state to curb illegal mining. This decision had unintended consequences on the market for unskilled labor as displaced miners shifted to other fields such as agriculture. In districts where mining was banned, we find that male agricultural field labor wages declined by 24%, household consumption declined by about 20%, and demand for guaranteed government work programs increased by about five percentage points. These findings have important implications for sunset industries in transitioning economies that are experiencing structural transformation.

Abstract:  Afforestation is a popular strategy to mitigate climate change. When successful, afforestation programs can produce important co-benefits beyond carbon sequestration, which have significant implications for the net social benefit of carbon abatement through afforestation. In 2003, one of the largest afforestation programs in India was implemented in Rajasthan state. Using a yearly, district-level panel from 1997 to 2017, we estimate the effects of this program on the agricultural sector using two-way fixed effects and synthetic difference-in-differences approaches. Our findings suggest that the afforestation program led to robust, statistically significant increases in rainfall and agricultural production, area, and yield. We discuss the implications of our findings for afforestation as a climate mitigation strategy.

Abstract: Agricultural marketing in India has been centralized and regulated by state governments. In 2006, the Indian state of Bihar decided to move away from government intervention in the agricultural supply chain, such as through regulated marketplaces, to promote private investment and free trade. The aim was to encourage more competition in the agricultural sector, which would lead to a higher surplus for farmers. Using the two-way fixed-effects estimation model, we found evidence that reform had no significant effect on the area under cultivation; however, the yields increased significantly. We find that farmers used more fertilizer but there was no evidence of mechanization. Farmers received less crop income on average post reforms. Consequently, the reduction in demand for field labor led to lower wages for field laborers. We discuss policy imperatives in light of new evidence on farmers' response to market liberalization in the agricultural sector. 

"Health vs Wealth: The impact of mining bans on pregnancy outcomes" with Dylan Brewer

Abstract: In 2011, the Supreme Court of India banned mining for over 150 iron ore mines due to environmental concerns.  We study the impact of this mining ban on pregnancy outcomes, finding improvements in infant and maternal outcomes for births in regions subject to the ban relative to control regions.  The ban reduced the likelihood of still births, medically terminated pregnancies, and maternal anemia at delivery while birth weights increased. As mechanisms, we show that the ban on mining reduced household consumption but improved air quality, suggesting that the environmental benefits outweighed the local economic costs of the ban.

Abstract: Pollution negatively affects the health of an individual forcing them to reduce labor force participation. This effect is amplified for married individuals when they are subjected to illness due to pollution. It is because a married individual has the added responsibility of spending time on caregiving for their spouse. In a country like India, where wage differences between women and men are very high, both men and women respond differently to their respective spouse's illnesses. Due to the dominant income effect both end up working more in case of their spouse is sick compared to unmarried individuals. However, the effect is 3 times higher in the case of women compared to men. 

Work in Progress: 

"The effect of choice of marketing channel on economic surplus for farmers in India" with Ashok Mishra and Stefan Hirsch

"Mining ban, air pollution, and health expenditure on short-term illnesses" with Dylan Brewer

"The effect of regional fiscal autonomy on migration patterns of highly skilled workers in the USA" with Haoqian Zou