Research



Working Papers:

 "Benefits to Agriculture from an Afforestation Program: Evidence from India" with Dylan Brewer and Matthew Oliver, Under review

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.

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.

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. 

"Environmental Shocks and Agriculture: Implications of Floods on Labor Market Outcomes" with Jayash Paudel and Ashok Mishra, Under review

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.

"Effect of choice of marketing channel on economic surplus for farmers in India" with Ashok Mishra and Stefan Hirsch, Under review

Farmers in emerging economies like India sell farm output through several marketing outlets. At the same time, in the interest of food security and poverty alleviation, the Indian government encourages farmers to produce various agricultural products by setting minimum support prices (MSP) under the agricultural policy. The government procures 23 agricultural commodities through government agencies at the MSP. This study investigates how the choice of farmers’ marketing channels affects farm performance. We implement an instrumental variable approach to address endogeneity in choosing a marketing channel. Using a large sample of nationally-representative panel data from India, our results show that government buying agencies grant farmers higher bargaining power and, as a result, increase farmers’ total sales value. In particular, farmers who sell their products to government buying agencies doubled their sales value compared to farmers who use private marketing channels. Robustness checks show that the magnitude of the impact varies with farm size and the social classification of farmers in India. 

"Effect of women in parliament on poverty and inequality" with Chandan K. Jha (draft available upon request)

"Effect of air pollution on labor supply decisions of the married individuals" (draft available upon request)


Work in Progress: 

"Crop damage and food security"

"Determinants of Migration "