Learning together: Experimental evidence on the impact of group-based nutrition interventions in rural Bihar

(with Kalyani Raghunathan, Neha Kumar, Shivani Gupta, Ashi Kohli Kathuria and Purnima Menon). World

Development, August 2023, 168: 106267.

Job Market Paper

Accounting for Empowerment? Examining Women's Financial Inclusion in India

Abstract: Bank account ownership increases women’s labor force participation, occupational mobility and savings but there is limited understanding of how the account improves women's control over money and participation in household decisions. This paper provides evidence of the short-term effects of bank account ownership on women’s empowerment.  In 2014, the Government of India implemented a policy removing service costs of bank account ownership that increased the demand for these accounts. This paper exploits the sharp timing of the policy to estimate how account ownership affects married women's empowerment using quasi-experimental identification strategies. A wife's account ownership in response to the policy caused households to increase their uptake of formal credit and savings, and at the same time reduce total monthly consumption, particularly of  consumer durables. Prior to policy implementation, account ownership in a district was positively correlated with the level of banking infrastructure and, consistent with its goals, the policy led to a faster growth of accounts in districts with lower banking infrastructure. I leverage the spatial variation in all account ownership across districts to test effects on women’s self-reported measures of empowerment. There are no aggregate improvements in women's participation in decisions of household resource allocation in districts where the policy had a higher impact relative to others but there are positive heterogeneous effects based on higher trust in banking institutions.

Email for latest draft. 

Invited Talks:


Working Paper

(My second year paper was in the area of political economy and local adaptation to natural hazards and climate change.)

Do political motivations affect recovery from natural hazards? Analysis of floods in India 

Abstract: Adaptation to climate change and natural hazards is driven by government’s efforts to mitigate risk, direct resources and mobilize relief efforts. Do elected leaders target the most vulnerable populations or use this as an opportunity to increase their political gains? If so, do they prioritize their supporters? I test the effect of affiliation to the state government on the economic recovery of state assembly constituencies in India from floods. Using estimators for Difference-in-Differences with multiple time periods and regression discontinuity analysis, I find no systematic differences in the recovery of flooded constituencies in six states during 2008-13 based on their affiliation to the ruling party. Studying the governments’ response is of growing importance as climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. In addition, the welfare consequences of strategic relief provision are severe in a low-income country such as India where floods are widespread and recurring.

 Email for latest draft. 


Works in progress

Extreme temperature and intimate partner violence (IPV): Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract: In the recent years, consistent increase in global temperatures and changing weather patterns has most severely affected Sub-Saharan Africa where agriculture is the largest employer and there is limited technology adoption to combat weather fluctuations. In addition to aggregate effects on income, productivity and crime, there are additional spillover effects of extreme temperature on more vulnerable groups such as women. The paper estimates the effect of extreme temperature on women's experience of IPV through temperature-induced aggression from their male partner. I combine nationally representative household surveys collecting women's outcomes with remote sensing data estimating surface level temperature to report positive correspondence between rising temperature and the incidence and frequency of IPV.


Minimum wages, gender norms and women's experience of intimate partner violence

Abstract: Household bargaining models predict that increased earnings relative to men could either reduce incidence of IPV through lower tolerance and improved outside option or increase IPV through male backlash and use of violence for resource extraction. This paper tests the effect of an income-improving policy instrument on norms and incidence of IPV. I study the 2013 minimum wage increase in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh which had a disproportionate effect on women's earnings given over 80%of the workers are women.  Results are forthcoming.