Rohini Pande

Pande, Rohini, Sean Lewis-Faupel, Yusuf Neggers, and Benjamin A. Olken. 2016. “ Can Electronic Procurement Improve Infrastructure Provision? Evidence from Public Works in India and Indonesia.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 8 (3): 258-283. Publisher's Version can_electronic_procurement_pande.pdf
Pande, Rohini, Dean Karlan, Jake Kendall, Rebecca Mann, Tavneet Suri, and Jonathan Zinman. 2016. “Research and Impacts of Digital Financial Services”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A growing body of rigorous research shows that financial services innovations can have important positive impacts on wellbeing, but also that many do not. We first describe the latest evidence on what works in financial inclusion. Second, we summarize research on key financial market failures and on products and innovations that address specific mechanisms underlying them. We conclude by highlighting open areas for future work.

Pande, Rohini, Abraham Holland, and Erica Field. 2016. “Microfinance: Points of Promise.” Contemporary and Emerging Issues, for W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Ed. Jean Kimmel.
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.

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. 2015. “Keeping Women Safe.” Harvard Magazine, January-February, 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Addressing the root causes of violence against women in South Asia

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
Pande, Rohini, Christine Binzel , and Erica Field. 2013. “Does the Arrival of Formal Financial Institutions Alter Informal Sharing Arrangements? Experimental Evidence from Village India”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

How do processes of development, in particular the arrival of formal financial institutions, influence the risk-sharing capacity of village social networks? To shed light on this question, this paper exploits the randomized branch roll-out by a large rural bank in India. Improved formal financial access leads villagers to increase formal borrowing and reduce informal borrowing and gift exchange within the village. The substitutability of formal for informal borrowing is, in turn, associated with a decline of informal trust-based institutions: the risk-sharing capacity of informal networks falls and villagers are less likely to share resources with network members in non-anonymous dictator games. An overall decline in transfers is accompanied by a shift in transfers away from financial network links and towards social links, suggesting that the availability of formal financial services enables households to shift network investments towards members for whom they feel greater altruism.

Pande, Rohini, Michael Greenstone, Raahil Madhok, and Hardik Shah. 2013. Water Pollution and Public health in India: The Potential for a Market-friendly Approach. Harvard South Asia Institute, 61-67.
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, Benjamin Feigenberg, and Erica Field. 2013. “The Economic Returns to Social Interaction: Experimental Evidence from Microfinance.” Review of Economic Studies (April 2013) 80 (4): 1459-1483. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Microfinance clients were randomly assigned to repayment groups that met either weekly or monthly during their first loan cycle, and then graduated to identical meeting frequency for their second loan. Long-run survey data and a follow-up public goods experiment reveal that clients initially assigned to weekly groups interact more often and exhibit a higher willingness to pool risk with group members from their first loan cycle nearly two years after the experiment. They were also three times less likely to default on their second loan. Evidence from an additional treatment arm show that, holding meeting frequency fixed, the pattern is insensitive to repayment frequency during the first loan cycle. Taken together, these findings constitute the first experimental evidence on the economic returns to social interaction, and provide an alternative explanation for the success of the group lending model in reducing default risk.

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, and Petia Topalova. 2013. “Women in Charge.” International Monetary Fund's "Finance and Development," June 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A policy experiment in India suggests that placing female leaders in positions of power can dramatically change public attitudes

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.