Hanna, Rema, and Iqbal Dhaliwal. Submitted. “Deal with the Devil: The Successes and Limitations of Bureaucratic Reform in India”.Abstract

Employing a technological solution to monitor the attendance of public-sector health care workers in India resulted in a 15 percent increase in the attendance of the medical staff. Health outcomes improved, with a 16 percent increase in the delivery of infants by a doctor and a 26 percent reduction in the likelihood of infants born under 2500 grams. However, women in treatment areas substituted away from the newly monitored health centers towards delivery in the (unmonitored) larger public hospitals and private hospitals. Several explanations may help explain this shift: better triage by the more present health care staff; increased patients’ perception of absenteeism in the treatment health centers; and the ability of staff in treatment areas to gain additional rents by moving women to their private practices and by siphoning off the state-sponsored entitlements that women would normally receive at the health center at the time of delivery. Despite initiating the reform on their own, there was a low demand among all levels of government–state officials, local level bureaucrats, and locally-elected bodies—to use the better quality attendance data to enforce the government’s human resource policies due to a fear of generating discord among the staff. These fears were not entirely unfounded: staff at the treatment health centers expressed greater dissatisfaction at their jobs and it was also harder to hire new nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists at the treatment health centers after the intervention. Thus, this illustrates the implicit deal that governments make on non-monetary dimensions—truancy, allowance of private practices—to retain staff at rural outposts in the face of limited budgets and staff shortages.

Pande, Rohini, Erica Field, Seema Jayachandran, and Natalia Rigol. 2016. “Friendship at Work:Can Peer E ffects Catalyze Female Entrepreneurship?.” American Economic Journal: Public Policy.Abstract

Does the lack of peers contribute to the observed gender gap in entrepreneurial success, and is the constraint stronger for women facing more restrictive social norms? We ordered two days of business counseling to a random sample of customers of India's largest women's bank. A random subsample was invited to attend with a friend. The intervention had a significant immediate impact on participants' business activity, but only if they were trained in the presence of a friend. Four months later, those trained with a friend were more likely to have taken out business loans, were less likely to be housewives, and reported increased business activity and higher household income. The positive impacts of training with a friend were stronger among women from religious or caste groups with social norms that restrict female mobility.

Hanna, Rema, Esther Duflo, and Michael Greenstone. 2016. “Up in Smoke: The Influence of Household Behavior on the Long-Run Impact of Improved Cooking Stoves.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 8 (1): 80-114. Publisher's VersionAbstract

It is conventional wisdom that it is possible to reduce exposure to indoor air pollution, improve health outcomes, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions in rural areas of developing countries through the adoption of improved cooking stoves. This is largely supported by observational field studies and engineering or laboratory experiments. However, we provide new evidence, from a randomized control trial conducted in rural Orissa, India (one of the poorest places in India) on the benefits of a commonly used improved stove that laboratory tests showed to reduce indoor air pollution and require less fuel. We track households for up to four years after they received the stove. While we find a meaningful reduction in smoke inhalation in the first year, there is no effect over longer time horizons. We find no evidence of improvements in lung functioning or health and there is no change in fuel consumption (and presumably greenhouse gas emissions). The difference between the laboratory and field findings appears to result from households’ revealed low valuation of the stoves. Households failed to use the stoves regularly or appropriately, did not make the necessary investments to maintain them properly, and usage rates ultimately declined further over time. More broadly, this study underscores the need to test environmental and health technologies in real-world settings where behavior may temper impacts, and to test them over a long enough horizon to understand how this behavioral effect evolves over time.

Pande, Rohini, Michael Greenstone, Janhavi Nilekani, Nicholas Ryan, Anant Sudarshan, and Anish Sugathan. 2015. “Lower Pollution, Longer Lives. Life Expectancy Gains if India Reduced Particulate Matter Pollution.” Economic and Political Weekly,February 21m 2015, 50, 8, 40-46. Publisher's VersionAbstract

India’s population is exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution. Using a combination of ground-level in situ measurements and satellite-based remote sensing data, this paper estimates that 660 million people, over half of India’s population, live in areas that exceed the Indian National Ambient Air Quality Standard for fine particulate pollution. Reducing pollution in these areas to achieve the standard would, we estimate, increase life expectancy for these Indians by 3.2 years on average for a total of 2.1 billion life years. We outline directions for environmental policy to start achieving these gains.

Pande, Rohini, Sharon Barnhardt, and Erica Field. 2015. “Moving to Opportunity or Isolation? Network Effects of a Randomized Housing Lottery in India”.Abstract

A housing lottery in an Indian city provided winning slum dwellers the opportunity to move into improved housing on the city’s periphery. Fourteen years later, relative to lottery losers, winners report improved housing farther from the city center, but no change in family income or human capital. Winners also report increased isolation from family and caste networks and lower access to informal insurance. We observe significant program exit: 34% of winners never moved into the subsidized housing and 32% eventually exited. Our results point to the importance of considering social networks when designing housing programs for the poor.

Pande, Rohini. 2015. “Why Are Indian Children So Short?”.Abstract

India's child stunting rate is among the highest in the world, exceeding that of many poorer African countries. In this paper, we analyze data for over 174,000 Indian and Sub-Saharan African children to show that Indian firstborns are taller than African firstborns; the Indian height disadvantage emerges with the second child and then increases with birth order. This pattern persists when we compare height between siblings, and also holds for health inputs such as vaccinations. Three patterns in the data indicate that India's culture of eldest son preference plays a key role in explaining the steeper birth order gradient among Indian children and, consequently, the overall height deficit. First, the Indian firstborn height advantage only exists for sons. Second, an Indian son with an older sibling is taller than his African counterpart if and only if he is the eldest son. Third, the India-Africa height deficit is largest for daughters with no older brothers, which reflects that fact that their families are those most likely to exceed their desired fertility in order to have a son.

Pande, Rohini, Sean Lewis-Faupe, Yusuf Negger, and Benjamin A. Olken. 2014. “Can Electronic Procurement Improve Infrastructure Provision?Evidence from Public Works in India and Indonesia.” American Economic Journal: Public Policy.Abstract

Poorly functioning, and often corrupt, public procurement procedures are widely faulted for the low quality of infrastructure provision in developing countries. Can electronic procurement (e-procurement), which reduces both the cost of acquiring tender information and personal inter-action between bidders and procurement officials, ameliorate these problems? In this paper we develop a unique micro-dataset on public works procurement from two fast-growing economies, India and Indonesia, and use regional and time variation in the adoption of e-procurement across both countries to examine its impact. We find no evidence that e-procurement reduces prices paid by the government, but do find that it is associated with quality improvements. In India, where we observe an independent measure of construction quality, e-procurement improves the average road quality, and in Indonesia, e-procurement reduces delays in completion of public works projects. Bidding data suggests that an important channel of influence is selection {regions with e-procurement have a broader distribution of winners, with (better) winning bidders more likely to come from outside the region where the work takes place. On net, the results suggest that e-procurement facilitates entry from higher quality contractors

Pande, Rohini, Esther Duflo, Michael Greenstone, and Nicholas Ryan. 2014. “The Value of Regulatory Discretion: Estimates from Environmental Inspection in India”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In collaboration with a state environmental regulator in India, we conducted a field experiment to raise the frequency of environmental inspections to the prescribed minimum for a random set of industrial plants. The treatment was successful when judged by process measures, as treatment plants, relative to the control group, were more than twice as likely to be inspected and to be cited for violating pollution standards. Yet the treatment was weaker for more consequential outcomes: the regulator was no more likely to identify extreme polluters (i.e., plants with emissions five times the regulatory standard or more) or to impose costly penalties in the treatment group. In response to the added scrutiny, treatment plants only marginally increased compliance with standards and did not significantly reduce mean pollution emissions. To explain these results and recover the full costs of environmental regulation, we model the regulatory process as a dynamic discrete game where the regulator chooses whether to penalize and plants choose whether to abate to avoid future sanctions. We estimate this model using original data on 10,000 interactions between plants and the regulator. Our estimates imply that the costs of environmental regulation are largely reserved for extremely polluting plants. Applying the cost estimates to the experimental data, we find the average treatment inspection imposes about half the cost on plants that the average control inspection does, because the randomly assigned inspections in the treatment are less likely than normal discretionary inspections to target such extreme polluters.

Banerjee, Abhijit, Donald Green, Jeffrey McManus, and Rohini Pande. 2014. “Are Poor Voters Indifferent to Whether Elected Leaders are Criminal or Corrupt? A Vignette Experiment in Rural India.” Political Communications 31 (3): 391-407.Abstract

Although in theory, elections are supposed to prevent criminal or venal candidates from winning or retaining office, in practice voters frequently elect and re-elect such candidates. This surprising pattern is sometimes explained by reference to voters’ underlying preferences, which are thought to favor criminal or corrupt candidates because of the patronage they provide. This paper tests this hypothesis using data from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where one in four representatives in the state legislature has a serious criminal record and where political corruption is widespread. Contrary to the voter preference hypothesis, voters presented with vignettes that randomly vary the attributes of competing legislative candidates for local, state, and national office become much less likely to express a preference for candidates who are alleged to be criminal or corrupt. Moreover, voters’ education status, ethnicity, and political knowledge are unrelated to their distaste for criminal and venal candidates. The results imply that the electoral performance of candidates who face serious allegations likely reflects factors other than voters’ preferences for patronage, such as limited information about candidate characteristics or the absence of credible alternative candidates with clean records. 

Pande, Rohini, Benjamin Feigenberg, Erica Field, Natalia Rigol, and Shayak Sarkar. 2014. “Do Group Dynamics Influence Social Capital Gains Among Microfinance Clients? Evidence From a Randomized Experiment in Urban India.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 33 (4): 932-949. journal_of_policy_analysis_vol_33_no_4_pande_2014.pdf
Hanna, Rema, and Shing-yi Wang. 2014. “Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service”.Abstract

In this paper, we demonstrate that university students who cheat on a simple task in a laboratory setting are more likely to state a preference for entering public service. Importantly, we also show that cheating on this task is predictive of corrupt behavior by real government workers, implying that this measure captures a meaningful propensity towards corruption. Students who demonstrate lower levels of prosocial preferences in the laboratory games are also more likely to prefer to enter the government, while outcomes on explicit, two-player games to measure cheating and attitudinal measures of corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. We find that a screening process that chooses the highest ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption among the applicant pool. Our findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption. They also emphasize that screening characteristics other than ability may be useful in reducing corruption, but caution that more explicit measures may offer little predictive power.

Pande, Rohini, and Seema Jayachandran. 2013. “Choice Not Genes: Probable Cause for the India-Africa Child Height Gap.” Economic and Political Weekly, 48, 34, 77-79. Publisher's Version pande_r_-_choice_not_genes.pdf
Pande, Rohini, Timothy Besley, Jessica Leight, and Vijayendra Rao. 2013. “Long-Run Impacts of Land Regulation:Evidence from Tenancy Reform in India.” Journal of Developmental Economics.Abstract

Land reform policies have been widely enacted across the developing world. How-ever, despite the central importance of land as an asset in low-income economies, evidence about the long-run impact of such policies remains limited. In this paper, we provide evidence about these long-run effects by combining the quasi-random assignment of linguistically similar areas to South Indian states that subsequently pursued different tenancy regulation policies with cross-caste variation in landownership. Roughly thirty years after the bulk of land reform occurred, land inequality is lower in more regulated areas, but the impact differs by caste group. Tenancy reforms increase own-cultivation among middle caste households, but render low caste households more likely to work as daily agricultural laborers. At the same time, an increase in agricultural wages is observed. These results are consistent with credit markets playing a central role in determining the long-run impact of land reform: tenancy regulations increased land sales to the relatively richer and more productive middle caste tenants but reduced land access for poorer low caste tenants

Pande, Rohini, Ben Feigenberg, Erica Field, John Papp, and Natalia Rigol. 2013. “Does the Classic Micro finance Model Discourage Entrepreneurship Among the Poor? Experimental Evidence from India.” American Economic Review, October 2013 103 (6): 2196-2226. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Do the repayment requirements of the classic microfinance contract inhibit investment in high-return but illiquid business opportunities among the poor? Using a field experiment, we compare the classic contract which requires that repayment begin immediately after loan disbursement to a contract that includes a two-month grace period. The provision of a grace period increased short-run business investment and long-run prots but also default rates. The results, thus, indicate that debt contracts that require early re-payment discourage illiquid risky investment and thereby limit the potential impact of microfinance on micro enterprise growth and household poverty.

Duflo, Esther, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande, and Nichols Ryan. 2013. “What Does Reputation Buy? Differentiation in a Market for Third-party Auditors.” American Economic Review 103 (3): 314-319. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We study differences in quality in the market for third-party environmental auditors in Gujarat, India. We find that, despite the low overall quality, auditors are heterogeneous and some perform well. We posit that these high-quality auditors survive by using their good name to insulate select client plants from regulatory scrutiny. We find two pieces of evidence broadly consistent with this hypothesis: (i) though estimates are not precise, higher-quality auditors appear to be paid more both in their work as third-party auditors and in their complementary work as consultants; and (ii) plants with high-quality auditors incur fewer costly penalties from the regulator.

Duflo, Esther, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande, and Nicholas Ryan. 2013. “Truth-Telling by Third-party Auditors and the Response of Polluting Firms: Experimental Evidence from India.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 128 (4): 1-48. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In many regulated markets, private, third-party auditors are chosen and paid by the firms that they audit, potentially creating a conflict of interest. This paper reports on a two- year field experiment in the Indian state of Gujarat that sought to curb such a conflict by altering the market structure for environmental audits of industrial plants to incentivize accurate reporting. There are three main results. First, the status quo system was largely corrupted, with auditors systematically reporting plant emissions just below the standard, although true emissions were typically higher. Second, the treatment caused auditors to report more truthfully and very significantly lowered the fraction of plants that were falsely reported as compliant with pollution standards. Third, treatment plants, in turn, reduced their pollution emissions. The results suggest reformed incentives for third-party auditors can improve their reporting and make regulation more effective.

Pande, Rohini, and Deanna Ford. 2012. “Gender Quotas and Female Leadership: A Review.” Background Paper for the World Development Report on Gender. April, 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Despite significant advances in education and political participation, women remain underrepresented in leadership positions in politics and business across the globe. In many countries, policy-makers have responded by introducing gender quotas in politics and increasingly, many have expressed an interest in requiring gender quotas for corporate boards. This paper reviews the evidence on the equity and efficiency impacts of gender quotas for political positions and corporate board membership. Adoption of quotas by countries is likely correlated with attitudes about women within a country. However, the randomized allocation of political quotas in India and the unanticipated introduction of board quotas in Norway have allowed researchers to provide causal analysis and this review focuses on evidence from these two settings. The Indian evidence demonstrates that quotas increase female leadership and influences policy outcomes. In addition, rather than create a backlash against women, quotas can reduce gender discrimination in the long-term. The board quota evidence is more mixed. While female entry on boards is correlated with changing management practices, this change appears to adversely influence short-run profits. Whether this is partly driven by negative perceptions of female management choices remains an open question. Returning to the broader cross-country context, we find evidence in many different settings that political and corporate entities often act strategically to circumvent the intended impact of quotas. Consistent with this, we report suggestive evidence that the design of the quota and selection systems matter for increasing female leadership.

Pande, Rohini, Lori Beaman, and Alexandra Cirone. 2012. “Politics as a Male Domain and Empowerment in India.” Chapter 14 in The Impact of Gender Quotas: Women's Descriptive, Substantive, and Symbolic Representation. Ed. S. Franceschet, M. Kook, and J. Piscopo. Oxford University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

India is the world’s largest democracy, yet female presence in India’s state and national legislatures has consistently remained under 10 percent. In contrast, female representation in Iocal village councils has risen dramatically in the last twenty years. A constitutional amendment instituted in 1993 both devolved significant powers to village councils and instituted a quota system that required that one-third of village council leader positions be reserved for women. While the mandatory nature of the quota system implied that it led to an immediate increase in descriptive representation, our work with co-authors demonstrates that it also increased substantive representation.

Pande, Rohini, Timothy Besley, and Vijayendra Rao. 2012. “Just Rewards? Local Politics and Public Resource Allocation in South India.” World Economic Review 26 (2): 191-216. Publisher's VersionAbstract

What factors determine the nature of political opportunism in local government in South-India? To answer this question, we study two types of policy decision that have been delegated to local politicians {beneficiary selection for transfer programs and the allocation of within-village public goods. Our data on village councils in South-India show that, relative to other citizens, elected councillors are more likely to be selected as beneficiaries of a large transfer program. The chief councillor's village also obtains more public goods, relative to other villages.These findings can be interpreted using a simple model of the logic of political incentives in the context that we study.

Hanna, Rema, and Leigh L Linden. 2012. “Discrimination in grading.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 4 (4): 146-168. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We report the results of an experiment that was designed to test for discrimination in grading in India. We recruited teachers to grade exams. We randomly assigned child "characteristics" (age, gender, and caste) to the cover sheets of the exams to ensure that there is no relationship between these observed characteristics and the exam quality. We find that teachers give exams that are assigned to be lower caste scores that are about 0.03 to 0.08 standard deviations lower than those that are assigned to be high caste. The teachers' behavior appears consistent with statistical discrimination.