Aggregate Effects from Public Works: Evidence from India


This paper explores the aggregate economic effects from India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which guarantees up to 100 days of labor to rural laborers at the mandated minimum wage. We examine the within-district change to night-time lights and banking deposits using the staggered program rollout for identification. We find consistent and robust evidence that NREGS increased aggregate economic output by 1-2% per capita, measured by night-time lights and bank deposits. Both of these effects, however, are not equal across districts. We observe no positive effect of the program in poorer districts, illuminating an important source of heterogeneity.


This webinar is part of a series of Zoom events that explores issues in growth and development in India. The series' academic committee consists of Takashi Kurosaki (Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study), Pushkar Maitra (Monash University and Sujata Visaria (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) .    

About the speaker

Manisha Shah is Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Global Lab for Research in Action at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Shah is also a Faculty Research Associate at the NBER, a Faculty Affiliate at UC Berkeley’s CEGA,  J-PAL, and BREAD, and a Research Fellow at the IZA. Shah is an economist who received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.

Shah is a development economist whose primary research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of applied microeconomics, health, and development. She has written several papers on the economics of sex markets in order to learn how more effective policies and programs can be deployed to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. She also works in the area of child health and education. Her research has been supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the World Bank, and the National Science Foundation among others. 

To Attend the Event

The event will take place on 30 June 2020 Tuesday at 11:30 am HKT == 1:30 pm AEST == 12:30 pm JST. (See corresponding times for different times zones).

The event will be held online via Zoom.  Please obtain the meeting link here as part of our security measures.  Also see here for advice from the university's IT office on Zoom best practices for attendees.  

The event will also be broadcast live on the Institute's Facebook page. Please "Like" the page to get instantly notified when the event goes live. 


House Rules

  • We would like the webinar to be interactive. Please join with both audio and video whenever possible.
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  • This talk will be recorded.