Vijayendra Rao's research while affiliated with World Bank and other places

Publications (82)

Article
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That inequality varies within and between groups is well understood. We explore how inequality can also be ‘fractal,’ salient not only between sub-groups of groups but also between sub-groups of sub-groups. We demonstrate this, as a proof of concept using a limited sample, in the case of Bihar one of India’s poorest states where caste has been a pe...
Article
India’s cities face key challenges to improving public health outcomes. First, unequally distributed public resources create insanitary conditions, especially in slums – threatening everyone’s health, as suggested by poor child growth even amongst the wealthiest. Second, devolving services to elected bodies works poorly for highly technical service...
Article
This paper opens the “black box” of real-world deliberation by using text-as-data methods on a corpus of transcripts from the constitutionally mandated gram sabhas , or village assemblies, of rural India. Drawing on normative theories of deliberation, we identify empirical standards for “good” deliberation based on one’s ability both to speak and t...
Article
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The global incidence of very intense cyclones has increased in recent decades with climate projections signaling that this trend will intensify. To what degree can vulnerability to extreme weather events be mitigated by access to a rural livelihoods program, particularly with regard to the impacts on women? This paper addresses this question throug...
Article
Deliberative institutions have gained popularity in the developing world as a means by which to make governance more inclusive and responsive to local needs. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that persistent gender inequality may limit women’s ability to participate actively and influence outcomes in these forums. In response, policy mak...
Article
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Caste is a persistent driver of inequality in India, and it is generally analyzed with government-defined broad cate- gories, such as Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe. In everyday life, however, caste is lived and experienced as jati, which is a local system of stratification. Little is known about economic inequality at the jati level. This pap...
Book
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India’s cities face key challenges to improving public health outcomes. First, unequally distributed public resources create insanitary conditions, especially in slums – threatening everyone’s health, as suggested by poor child growth even amongst the wealthiest. Second, devolving services to elected bodies works poorly for highly technical service...
Working Paper
Full-text available
India’s cities face key challenges to improving public health outcomes. First, unequally distributed public resources create insanitary conditions, especially in slums – threatening everyone’s health, as suggested by poor child growth even amongst the wealthiest. Second, devolving services to elected bodies works poorly for highly technical service...
Article
Full-text available
It is widely acknowledged that top-down support is essential for bottom-up participatory projects to be effectively implemented at scale. However, which level of government, national or sub-national, should be given the responsibility to implement such projects is an open question, with wide variations in practice. This paper analyses qualitative a...
Article
Agricultural tenancy reforms have been widely enacted, but evidence on their long-run impact remains limited. In this paper, we provide such evidence by exploiting the quasi-random assignment of linguistically similar areas to different South Indian states that subsequently varied in tenancy regulation policies. Given imperfect credit markets, the...
Article
Participatory development has been a much-touted strategy by the world’s donors to developing countries ever since the late 1990s and has absorbed vast sums of money. By illustration, the World Bank alone spent $54 billion on community-driven development projects in the period 1999–2011. The influence of the ‘participatory development’ narrative on...
Article
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This essay discusses practical issues confronted when conducting surveys as well as designing appropriate field trials. First, it looks at the challenge of ensuring transparency while maintaining confidentiality. Second, it explores the role of trust in light of asymmetric information held by the surveyor and by the respondents as well as the latte...
Article
The World Bank has allocated close to $80 billion towards participatory development projects over the last decade. A comprehensive review of the evidence on the efficacy of the approach conducted by the authors for the forthcoming Policy Research Report, Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?, finds that while participatory projects have...
Article
The role of deliberation among citizens to determine and forge agreement on policy is often seen as a crucial feature of democratic government. This paper provides the first large-N empirical evidence on the credibility of voice in a deliberative democracy in an non-laboratory setting, using a unique dataset collected from transcripts of deliberati...
Article
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While the regulation of tenancy arrangements is widespread in the developing world, evidence on how such regulation influences the long-run allocation of land and labor remains limited. To provide such evidence, this paper exploits quasi-random assignment of linguistically similar areas to different South Indian states and historical variation in l...
Article
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This chapter outlines some of the ways and means by which inte- grating qualitative and quantitative approaches in development research and program evaluation can help yield insights that neither approach would produce on its own. In assessing the impact of development programs and policies, it is important to recognize that the quantitative method...
Article
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Over the last two decades development policy has touted civic participation as a magic bullet for solving problems at the local level—from improving livelihoods, to selecting beneficiaries for public programs, providing housing after earthquakes and floods, or improving village infrastructure. The thinking is that involving village or urban civic c...
Article
Standard approaches to decomposing how much group differences contribute to inequality rarely show significant between-group inequality, and are of limited use in comparing populations with different numbers of groups. We apply an adaptation to the standard approach that remedies these problems to longitudinal household data from two Indian village...
Article
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This paper provides an overview of the various ways in which mixing qualitative and quantitative methods could add value to monitoring and evaluating development projects. In particular it examines how qualitative methods could address some of the limitations of randomized trials and other quantitative impact evaluation methods; it also explores th...
Article
This paper reviews the main challenges and opportunities for incorporating mixed method approaches into research and evaluation on the effectiveness and impacts of international development. It draws on the authors’ experience over several decades working in both academia and with a wide range of multilateral and bilateral development agencies, non...
Article
Employing a view of culture as a communicative phenomenon involving discursive engagement, which is deeply influenced by social and economic inequalities, the authors argue that the struggle to break free of poverty is as much a cultural process as it is political and economic. In this paper, they analyze important examples of discursive spaces - p...
Article
The consensus among scholars and policymakers that ‘institutions matter’ for development has led inexorably to a conclusion that ‘history matters’, since institutions clearly form and evolve over time. Unfortunately, however, the next logical step has not yet been taken, which is to recognise that historians (and not only economic historians) might...
Article
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We investigate whether timing of the elections leads to riots or not within India. In other words, does timing of elections instigate riots? The theoretical underpinning is that an incumbent government and opposition parties exercises control over their agents to instigate communal mob violence and riots during the election years. The motto behind...
Article
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panchayats) for women candidates. Previous research has found that such “reservations” result in policy decisions that are closer to the preferences of women; qualitative research has argued, conversely, that it results in token appointments in which women are appointed by elites and are poorly educated and aged. We do not find evidence in favor of...
Article
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Despite efforts to mandate and finance local governments' provision of environmental sanitation services, outcomes remain poor in the villages surveyed in the four South Indian states. The analysis indicates some key issues that appear to hinder improvements in sanitation. Local politicians tend to capture sanitary infrastructure and cleaning servi...
Article
This paper uses data on elected village councils in South India to examine the political economy of public resource allocation. We find that the pattern of policy-making reflects politicians' self-interest. Elected councillors benefit from improved personal access to public resources. In addition, the head councillor's group identity and residence...
Article
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This paper considers the idea of a "Karnataka model of development," with its emphasis on technology and governance led development. It is the introduction to a Symposium in Economic and Political Weekly on "Governance and Development in Karnataka." Based on the papers in the Symposium, and on the wider literature, the paper explores the interpreta...
Article
Based on a study of some 500 villages in the four southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, this paper examines how the functioning of the panchayat system mandated by the 73rd amendment to the Constitution has had an impact on the economic status of villages and the households within them. The study finds that gra...
Article
We use detailed ethnographic evidence to design and interpret a broad representative survey of 800 households in Delhi’s slums, examining the processes by which residents gain access to formal government services and develop their own (informal) modes of leadership. While ethnically homogeneous slums transplant rural institutions to the city, newer...
Article
In this paper, we analyze the effect of gender quotas on women's involvement in political activity by using a rich data set providing information on all Italian local administrators who were elected from 1985 to 2007. Gender quotas were introduced by law in Italy in 1993 and were in force until 1995. Because of the short period covered by the refor...
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Mari Bhat, director of the International Institute of Population Sciences in Mumbai and among the finest demographers of his generation in the world, died suddenly on July 30. A tribute to his work.
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Proponents of such projects have claimed that the potential gains from community-driven development are large. These initiatives have the explicit objective of reversing power relations in a manner that creates agency and voice for poor people by making development more inclusive, strengthening governance, expanding the resources available to the p...
Article
Most economists think of common property as physical-a body of water, a forest-and as bounded within geographic space. In this paper, building on work in social theory, the author argues that common property can also be social-defined within symbolic space. People can be bound by well-defined symbolic agglomerations that have characteristics simila...
Article
This paper uses household data from India to examine the economic and social status of village politicians, and how individual and village characteristics affect politician behavior while in office. Education increases the chances of selection to public office and reduces the odds that a politician uses political power opportunistically. In contras...
Article
We use household and village survey data from South India to examine who participates in village meetings called by elected local governments, and what effect these meetings have on beneficiary selection for welfare programs. Our main finding is that it is the more disadvantaged social groups who attend village meetings and that holding such meetin...
Article
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Incl. abstract and bib. Qualitative data from a case study of the Jamaica social investment fund reveal that the social fund process is elite-driven and decision-making tends to be dominated by a small group of motivated individuals. However, there is broad-based satisfaction with the outcome. Quantitative data from 500 households mirror these find...
Article
We investigate whether timing of the elections leads to riots or not within India. In other words, does timing of elections instigate riots? The theoretical underpinning is that an incumbent government and opposition parties exercises control over their agents to instigate communal mob violence and riots during the election years. The motto behind...
Article
Full-text available
We examine the determinants of expenditures on wedding celebrations by rural Indian families. We develop a status signaling model of wedding celebrations where the size of the celebration signals the quality of the new groom’s family and, thus, the enhanced social status of the bride’s family. Predictions from the model are tested with survey data...
Article
This paper uses village and household survey data from South India to examine how political geography and politician identity impacts on public good provision. We provide evidence that the nature of this relationship varies by type of public good. For high spillover public goods residential proximity to elected representative matters. In contrast,...
Article
Community-based (and driven) development (CBD/CDD) projects have become an important form of development assistance, with the World Bank's portfolio alone approximating 7 billion dollars. The authors review the conceptual foundations of CBD/CDD initiatives. Given the importance of the topic, there are, unfortunately, a dearth of well-designed evalu...
Article
Community-based and -driven development projects have become an important form of development assistance, with the World Bank's portfolio alone approximating $7 billion. A review of their conceptual foundations and evidence on their effectiveness shows that projects that rely on community participation have not been particularly effective at target...
Article
In revisiting the influential Dyson and Moore (1983) hypothesis as to why women in South India enjoy relatively more agency than in the North, we conducted an econometric analysis of the determinants of women's mobility and decisionmaking authority. Data for the study come from a household data survey carried out in the Northern state of Uttar Prad...
Article
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The authors develop an evaluation method that combines qualitative evidence with quantitative survey data analyzed with propensity score methods on matched samples to study the impact of a participatory community-driven social fund on preference targeting, collective action, and community decision-making. The data come from a case study of five pai...
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Some aspects of violent behavior are linked to economic incentives and deserve more attention from economists. In India, for example, domestic violence is used as a bargaining instrument, to extract larger dowries from a wife's family, after the marriage has taken place. Bloch and Rao examine how domestic violence may be used as a bargaining instru...
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Social assimilation has been observed in many societies where members of the minority group suffer from discrimination. In this note, we provide a simple economic model of assimilation and show that the adoption of the social behavior of the dominant group can be used as a signal by high productivity members of the minority group.
Article
Festival expenditures amount to over 15 per cent of a household's annual expenditures in rural India. Yet they have never been studied by economists. This article uses both qualitative and quantitative data from a case study of three South Indian villages to show that festivals are important public goods in the village, but neither a pure entertain...
Article
This paper examines the paradox that very poor households spend large sums of money on celebrations. Using qualitative and quantitative data from South India, it demonstrates that expenditures on weddings and festivals can be explained by integrating an understanding of how identity is shaped in the Indian context, with an economic analysis of deci...
Article
We present a model in which individuals' preferences are defined over their consumption, transfers to offspring, and social status associated with income. We show that a separating equilibrium exists where individuals' expenditure on conspicuous consumption is a signal for their unobserved income. In this equilibrium, poor families that climb up th...
Article
The practice of safe sex by commercial sex workers is considered central to preventing the transmission of AIDS in developing countries. The authors estimate the compensating differential for condom use among sex workers in Calcutta, based on results from a survey conducted in 1993. If, as suggested by anecdotal evidence, this loss in income is lar...
Article
Anecdotal evidence suggests that sex workers who use condoms face large income losses because clients have a preference for condom-free sex. This has important implications for AIDS policy. We estimate the compensating differential for condom use employing data from a random sample of sex workers in Calcutta. We rely on a natural experiment—the non...
Article
This paper, based upon a case-study of three Indian villages, studies whether households within the same market pay different prices for identical goods. It is found that not only are unit prices for food heterogeneous, but that the poor pay more for the same goods than the rich. This is because liquidity constraints force poorer households to purc...
Article
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There is increasing interest in whether improving the participation of women in government will lead to more gender equality. We test this with data collected from South India, using a natural experiment that randomly reserves 1/3rd of all presidencies in democratically elected village councils (panchayats) for women candidates. Previous research h...
Article
This paper uses data on elected village councils in South India to examine the politics of public resource allocation. We stress two facets of the political process –access to political authority, and the use of political power. We …nd compelling evidence that the pattern of policy reects politicians'self-interest. Further, the extent and type of p...

Citations

... As SHGs and SHG federations mature and become institutionalized, they can also slowly acquire legitimacy, much as gram sabhas do: "politicians and bureaucrats learn how to engage with them, citizens learn how to navigate them, and both officials and citizens learn how to manipulate them" (Sanyal and Rao 2018) -amplifying their sustainability and efficacy. There is evidence from India that in states where support for local institutions has historically been high, as in Tamil Nadu, state-mobilized SHG participation increases women's participation in the gram sabha (Parthasarathy et al 2017) -suggesting that the institution is becoming more embedded in wider community consciousness, and acquiring legitimacy as well as collectivizing women to express their interests in wider political fora. Also relevant here is the extensive work of Naila Kabeer on women's agency (e.g. ...
... In 2016, Goldblatt et al used satellite imagery in India to examine areas of urbanization in a rapidly developing country [15]. A World Bank Group additionally reported using natural language processing to study differences between genders when deliberating topics in village meetings transcripts across Tamil Nadu [16]. Given the expanding use of these methods in international development and survey work, it is only fitting that we take them a step further to assist with monitoring incoming data. ...
... A substantive literature indicates that top-down and bottom-up approaches co-exist and community development interventions function at the best when top-down institutions support bottom-up processes (Joshi and Rao, 2017;Sharma, Copestake, and James, 2020). Top-down approach includes policy design, national-and state-level institutions, and decisions on resource allocation (e.g. ...
... Jatibased networks provide an extensive insurance network for credit, transfers and insurance during periods of vulnerability (Mazzocco 2012;Munshi 2019). Jati-based disparities are observed in educational attainment (Kumar and Somanathan 2017), opportunities for employment and out-migration (Munshi 2019) and women's opportunities to participate in markets and community life (Joshi et al. 2018). ...
... The discussions on positive impacts of the innovation can encourage future improvements in the technological and institutional aspects of the adoption of innovation and; discussions on negative impacts can help minimise and manage the risks associated with innovation (Setiawan et al., 2019;Singh and Kroesen, 2012). Culture of Deliberation is not a new tradition in India; it has been present since the pre-colonial and colonial period (Parthasarathy and Rao, 2017). In developing countries like India where inequalities are deeply rooted deliberative forum like -judicial courts and parliamentary debate give legitimacy to deliberated issues (Mansbridge, 2015). ...
... Rao (2001) observed that in rural South India a typical household spends nearly seven times its annual income on a daughter's marriage. Bloch, Rao, and Desai (2004) affirmed that such an event often drives Indian parents into massive debts at interest rates exceeding 200 percent. Banerjee and Duflo (2007) found that in Udaipur (a city in northwest India), the median household spent approximately 10 percent of its annual budget on festivals. ...
... Conditional and unconditional cash transfers, or its variants such as vouchers, have been tested in multiple demand-side interventions aiming to incentivize health care behaviors [55]. They have been shown to increase levels of the desired behavior, with conditional cash transfers yielding greater initial impacts than unconditional cash transfers [56] . Perceptions of service users and providers were in line with this sentiment, where participants believed that Group 4 (conditional vouchers) would be more motivated to attend screenings to receive the pharmacy voucher. ...
... Inequality in the allocation of health resources directly restricts the development of residents' health capabilities. Public health services can improve the efficiency of medical resource allocation by improving the accessibility of medical services, thereby becoming an important opportunity and condition for migrant workers to reduce their health and poverty [14]. Second, public health services reduce health costs. ...
... Although not formally plebeian assemblies, there are also lessons to be learned from India's gram sabhas or village assemblies (Parthasarathy, Rao, and Palaniswamy 2019). Shaped in part by Gandhian political thought, the 1993, 73rd amendment to the Indian constitution mandated the setting up of an elected council in every rural village (with a reserved proportion of places for women and for members of disadvantaged castes) and a village assembly of which every village resident is a member. ...
... Other methods may be better suited to accurately measuring the quantum of speech by particular groups, by gender, caste, race, or other identity-based criteria. For example, some studies have quantitatively analysed citizens' and women's speech in Tamil Nadu village assemblies (Ban et al. 2012;Palaniswamy et al. 2019). But if the goal is to identify communicative styles and narrative strategies used in deliberation and to understand them as part of rhetorical moves and performances, then one must rely on qualitative methods such as the one proposed in this chapter. ...