- Environmental Economics
- Development Economics
Job Market Paper
Resource Scarcity and Cooperation (Job Market Paper)
Climate change is likely to increase the risk of both transitory and prolonged water shortages in many developing countries. It is unclear how communities sharing joint water resources will respond to these shortages. This paper shows that water scarcity can have a different effect on cooperation over water, depending on whether the shortage is transitory or long term. Using daily outlet-level water theft data from Pakistan, I first show that an unexpected short-term water shortage increases the probability of over-extraction of surface water. Then, I examine how farmers respond to long-term scarcity by exploiting a natural experiment that decreases the effective availability of groundwater – the key substitute for surface water – through an increase in groundwater pollution. The instrumented difference-in-differences estimates show that, in contrast to a short-term shock, long term scarcity increases inter-village cooperation. Moreover, farmers experiencing long-term scarcity become better at managing water theft under transitory water shortages. Finally, I provide evidence that informal institutions and caste networks are important for managing water theft under prolonged scarcity. Taken together, these results suggest that long-term environmental change can push communities to adapt by investing in informal mechanisms that enforce cooperation.
(Previous version entitled "Reforming Institutions: Evidence from Cash Transfers in Pakistan")
Many public assistance programs allow for discretion in selecting recipients. This may provide flexibility for officials to use local knowledge to identify those with greatest need. However, it may also make public resources more vulnerable to capture. We exploit the introduction of a policy reform in Pakistan that eliminated discretion in targeting cash transfers; we use a combination of difference-in-differences and regression discontinuity approaches and a novel survey dataset we collected to identify effects. We document two key costs of discretion. First, under discretion, politicians directed funds towards well-connected and wealthy households. Second, this weakened public support for social programs. The reform reduced favoritism and improved public support. This may have helped it survive a transition to a new party in power, unlike previous assistance programs.
Work in Progress
Environmental Regulation and Firm Size (with James Fenske and Namrata Kala)
Social Movements, Gender Integration, and Female Labour Force Participation (with Aiman Farrukh)
State Capacity and Hate Crime in Haryana (with Apurav Yash Bhatiya and Sarthak Joshi)
Evaluating the Impact of a Biometric Verification System: Evidence from the Benazir Income Support Programme (with Kate Vyborny and Bilal Murtaza Siddiqi)