Sandip Sukhtankar

Department of Economics
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

September 2017General Equilibrium Effects of (Improving) Public Employment Programs: Experimental Evidence from India
with Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus: w23838
Public employment programs play a large role in many developing countries' anti-poverty strategies, but their net impact on the incomes of the poor will depend on both direct program earnings as well as indirect effects through changes induced in market wages and employment. We estimate this composite effect, exploiting a large-scale randomized experiment across 157 sub-districts and 19 million people that substantially improved the implementation of India's rural employment guarantee scheme. Despite no changes in government expenditure on the program itself, the earnings of low-income households rose 13%, driven overwhelmingly by market (90%) as opposed to program earnings (10%). Low-skilled wages increased 6% and days without paid work fell 7%, while migration and prices were unaffected....
March 2014Building State Capacity: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India
with Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus: w19999
Anti-poverty programs in developing countries are often difficult to implement; in particular, many governments lack the capacity to deliver payments securely to targeted beneficiaries. We evaluate the impact of biometrically-authenticated payments infrastructure ("Smartcards") on beneficiaries of employment (NREGS) and pension (SSP) programs in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, using a large-scale experiment that randomized the rollout of Smartcards over 158 sub- districts and 19 million people. We find that, while incompletely implemented, the new system delivered a faster, more predictable, and less corrupt NREGS payments process without adversely affecting program access. For each of these outcomes, treatment group distributions first-order stochastically dominated those of the contr...

Published: Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus & Sandip Sukhtankar, 2016. "Building State Capacity: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India," American Economic Review, vol 106(10), pages 2895-2929. citation courtesy of

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