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Consumption and Time-Use Effects of India’s Employment Guarantee and Women’s Participation

Bipasha Maity ()

Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2020, vol. 68, issue 4, 1185 - 1231

Abstract: This paper examines the effects of the number of days worked by households under India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) on expenditure patterns, food security, and individual time use. I use plausible exogenous variation in administrative bottlenecks regarding the timing of work provision as an instrument for the number of days worked. The paper finds that a greater number of days worked increases household food expenditure and especially spending on dairy, proteins, and vegetables that are likely to raise children’s nutritional status. Household food security is also found to improve. These effects seem to be because of the greater participation of women relative to men in the program. Greater adult participation in NREGA raises the time spent in school for younger girls. Importantly, women’s engagement in domestic chores as their major activity is found to fall. However, older boys are found to substitute for adults in agricultural work. Although girls are unlikely to substitute for adults in performing domestic tasks due to greater adult participation in NREGA, the increased engagement of boys in agricultural work is a plausible unintended consequence of the program.

Date: 2020
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