Manaswini Rao

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title: Research

Working Papers

We examine the effect of caste identity of village council leaders in India on the choice of local policies using the quasi-random assignment of the leaders’ position to specific caste groups within sub-districts. Overall, we find weak redistributive effects suggesting that choice of policies may only be a small component of the politician’s objective function even at the lowest tiers of the political structure.

Work in Progress

This project aims to explore causal relationship between judicial frictions and economic outcomes using newly available micro-data on cases in Indian courts. We model judicial frictions along a number of dimensions, including annual speed of resolution, delays in trial processing beyond the stipulated time and probability of disposal in each period. Next, we merge these friction measures with sub-national level data on economic outcomes. To address the concerns of credible identification strategy, we exploit exogenous changes that affect judicial efficiency such as changes in judge strength through vacancies arising out of sudden death or accidental causes, roll-out of alternate dispute resolution mechanisms and prior period legislations that either induce or reduce these frictions.

We evaluate the effects of rehabilitating local village level irrigation tanks on agricultural outcomes using a combination of observational and experimental approaches. Tank irrigation is a common (and climate friendly) mode of irrigation in Southern and Western India, which is based on impounding the surface run-off during rainy season for later use. However, since these are common pool resources, a lack of periodic upkeep had led to excessive silting and therefore, lowered capacity. Mission Kakatiya is a state-wide program in Telangana that aims to rehabilitate over 45000 tanks across the state in multiple phases. We make use of the staggered roll-out of earlier phases to study the impacts and understand the context of implementation in a differences-in-difference framework using a sample of 750 tanks. Further, we validate the findings using an experimental approach where we randomize the order of rehabilitation on a set of 92 tanks.

We characterize the status-quo equilibrium of the distribution of common-pool irrigation sources (tank irrigation), experimentally examine whether a pareto superior allocation exists, and if so, what mechanisms would help the farmer community move to the pareto superior equilibrium.

We explore the determinants of gender wage gap in the agricultural labor markets in India and examine the role of social norms in perpetuating it. We use multiple approaches to address these questions including analyzing secondary data from ICRISAT VDSA Panel, collecting primary data via surveys to elicit expectations and behavioral parameters to complement the former data source, and finally, investigate the role gender norms in influencing such behavior perpetuating the wage gap and other labor market outcomes through a lab-in-field experiment.