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  • Author: Avani Kapur, Sharad Pandey, U Ranjan, Vastav Irava
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The ‘Study of State Finances 2020-21’ Working Paper delves into the revenue and expenditure performance of 17 States. As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip, this timely analysis offers a unique window into the fiscal space available with States prior to the lockdown. This information is critical at a time when they are expected to craft adequate social protection responses and restart their economies.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance, Finance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Deepak Sanan, Sanjay Mitra
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Reforms designed to address core issues and their sequencing and timing would be critical to ensure the eventual success of the latest initiatives in the power sector. Lessons from the experience of earlier sectoral reform programmes and recommendations regarding the general architecture of central interventions, would need to be taken on board. Through a simple scenario building exercise, this paper concludes that the parlous financial position of the distribution utilities after lockdown requires that “reforms” follow “recovery”. The concurrent roll out of stringent reform measures on several fronts during a period of severe financial stress could seriously impair the prospects of a viable power sector in the near future. This, in turn, will not only hamper our planned promotion of renewables-based electricity but act as a brake on the entire process of economic recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Surbhi Kesar, Rosa Abraham, Rahul Lahoti, Paaritosh Nath, Amit Basole
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: We analyze findings from a large-scale survey of around 5000 respondents across 12 states of India to study the impact of COVID-19 pandemic containment measures (lockdown) on employment, livelihoods, food security and access to relief measures. We find a massive increase in unemployment, an equally dramatic fall in earnings among informal workers, large increases in food insecurity, depletion of savings and patchy coverage of relief measures. Two-thirds of our respondents lost work. The few informal workers who were still employed during the lockdown experienced more than a fifty percent drop in their earnings. Even among regular wage workers, half received either no salary or reduced salary during the lockdown. Almost eighty percent of surveyed households experienced a reduction in their food intake and a similar percentage of urban households did not have enough money to pay next month's rent. We also use a set of logistic regressions to identify how employment loss and food intake varies with individual and householdlevel characteristics. We find that migrants and urban Muslims are significantly worse off with respect to employment and food security. Among employment categories, self-employed workers were more food secure. The Public Distribution System (PDS) system was seen to have the widest reach among social security measures. However, even under PDS, 16 percent of vulnerable urban households did not have access to government rations. Further, half of the respondents reported not receiving any cash transfers (state or central). We conclude that much more is needed in the way of direct fiscal support that has been announced thus far by state and central governments in India.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Unemployment, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: My recent research paper “India's GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications,” (hereafter “GDP paper”) and the associated op-ed in the Indian Express on June 11, 2019 have generated considerable debate. This is encouraging because serious argument and counter-argument are the basis for good policy-making. Since the issue itself is of great importance, the counter-arguments to my analysis warrant a considered response. That is the aim of this note, which is a complement to the original paper, addressing both the larger issues and some of the specific points that have been raised. The note is structured as follows. Section II describes my engagement with India’s GDP estimation when I was Chief Economic Adviser. Section III elaborates on the framework/approach underlying the GDP paper. Section IV makes explicit the key puzzle surrounding India’s growth estimates, and addresses the possible explanations for it. Section V explores the puzzle in greater detail. Section VI provides additional cross-country evidence on growth and price deflators, which support the findings of the original paper, namely that growth during 2011-16 was likely overestimated by a significant margin. Section VII addresses two broad objections to the main findings. Section VIII discusses some of the methodological critiques of the paper. Section IX offers some thoughts on the way forward.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, International Development, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Servaas Storm
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Strong labor protections for ordinary workers are often portrayed as a ‘luxury developing countries cannot afford’. No study has been more influential in propagating this perversity trope in the context of the Indian economy than the QJE article of Besley and Burgess (2004). Their article provides econometric evidence that pro-worker regulation resulted in lower output, employment, investment and productivity in India’s registered manufacturing sector. This paper reviews existing critiques of Besley and Burgess (2004), which highlight conceptual and measurement errors and uncover econometric weaknesses. The paper takes a step beyond these: it reports a failure to replicate Besley and Burgess’ findings and demonstrate the nonrobustness of their results. My deconstruction is not only about the econometrics, however. I show that Besley and Burgess’ findings are not just inconsistent with their theoretical priors, but also internally contradictory and empirically implausible, taxing any person’s capacity for belief. The paper, written by two ‘useful economists’, exhibits a gratuitous empiricism in which priors trump evidence. On all counts, it fails the test of being useful to the purpose of ‘evidence-based’ public policy advice.mp Evidence and Progress Gets Stalled
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Labor Issues, Inequality, Labor Policies
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Girish Bahal, Anand Shrivastava
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Controlling for monetary policy, government transfers are potentially inflationary. This, however, may not be true when the economy is demandconstrained. Using a panel data of 17 Indian states over 30 years, we show that government transfers via welfare programs do not lead to inflation. For identification, we use a narrative shock series of transfer spending that is based on the introduction of new welfare programs. We then look at a specific program, NREGA, which has been shown to increase rural wages, and show that its implementation did not increase inflation.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy, Employment, Inflation, Demand
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Tuhinsubhra Giri, Santosh Mehrotra
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Most international development economics and industrial organization literature emphasises the importance of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) as important to output, but especially to employment generation. Countries have different definitions for SMEs. In India the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) are defined in terms of investment in plant and machinery or equipment. The MSME Ministry (Annual Report, Government of India 2017–18) stated that the sector accounts for 45% of the manufacturing output and 40% of the total exports of the country; also that MSMEs accounted for 30.74% of GDP in 2014– 15. Not surprising, MSMEs are considered a driving force of the economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Manufacturing, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Raavi Aggarwal
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: This article analyses relationships between the implementation of state-level industrial policies in India and manufacturing sector economic performance (employment and gross value added), utilising data from the Annual Survey of Industries conducted by the Government of India. I employ panel data fixed-effects regression models to evaluate the associations between the industrial policy and state-industry specific performance over the 2007-08 to 2014-15 period, incorporating potential effects of the state government's political alignment, infrastructure provision and educational expenditure in the state. The results provide evidence of a positive correlation between industrial policy implementation and firm output and employment, by around 12.6 - 14 per cent. However, subsequent introductions of an industrial policy are negatively associated with employment and are uncorrelated with industrial GVA. This analysis has implications for economic policy in light of the Central Government's plans to implement a revised industrial policy at the national scale.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Employment, Manufacturing
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Jajati Parida, Santosh Mehrotra
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Falling total employment is an unprecedented trend seen from 2011-12 to 2017-18. Due to a decline of employment in agriculture and manufacturing and slow growth of construction jobs, the process of structural transformation, which had gained momentum post-2004-5, has stalled since 2012. Mounting educated youth unemployment, and lack of quality non-farm jobs have resulted in an increase of the disheartened labour force. Though the share of regular and formal employment increased marginally due to growth of formal jobs in the private sectors, the share of informal jobs within government/public sector increased. A dominant share of jobs is still generated by micro and small units of the unorganized sectors without any formal or written job contract. In both government and private sectors the number of contract jobs (with less than a year’s contract) is on the rise post 2011-12. Not surprisingly, real wages have not increased in either rural or urban areas.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Labor Issues, Employment, Economic growth, Job Creation
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Santosh Mehrotra
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Globally, research has shown that, there is a high correlation between the level of per capita income and the rate of female labour force participation. At the same time the agency and autonomy of women in a country improve with the level of female labour force participation. Sen (2000) has argued that the autonomy and agency of women in a society and their empowerment is enabled by four conditions in their lives. First the higher the education level of women, the more empowered they are likely to feel. Second, if they are working outside the home, they are likely to feel a sense of autonomy and empowerment. Third, they should also have an independent source of income from that of the significant other in their household. Finally, their empowerment can be usually enhanced if they own assets and have access to them. One can see from this analysis that the first three requirements for women’s’ empowerment are related to each other and to some extent co-dependent. We will keep these considerations in mind as we analyse labour markets and how women engaged with them in different parts of the world.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Employment, Inequality
  • Political Geography: India