Gendered Consequences of Improving Public Service Delivery
University of Virginia
24th November, 2016 (Thursday) at 3:00 PM
Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics
All are cordially invited
In-kind transfer programs in developing countries are often fraught with leakages. In this paper we explore whether improving such programs can have women specific welfare consequences and whether short term improvements in such programs can have persistent benefits. Using the setting of a unique reform initiative by the state government of Punjab in India, in which the Fair Price Shop keepers in the Indian flagship Targeted Public Distribution System were side-stepped to experiment with an alternate delivery mechanism, we examine the changes in take-up of subsidized goods and consequences of the changes on women's health at the time the program was in effect and one year after it had been discontinued. We find a substantial increase in take-up of kerosene (cooking fuel oil) when the program was in effect. Women's health improved in the households exposed to the alternate delivery mechanism, and the improvements remain even a year after the program, rather than short term. Moreover, these gains are concentrated among households where women have greater bargaining power by various measures. However, the short term improvements do not mobilize communities to demand better service despite a permanent perceptible change in women's health.