Spaeaker : Dr. Bipasha Maity
This paper examines the effects of the number of days worked by households under India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) on expenditure patterns, food security and individual time-use. We use plausible exogenous variation in administrative bottlenecks regarding the timing of work provision as an instrument for the number of days worked. The paper finds that greater number of days worked increases household food expenditure, and especially spending on dairy, proteins, vegetables-that are likely to raise nutritional status of children; with no effect on spending on adult goods like cigarettes and alcohol. Household food security is also found to improve. Households are also more likely to spend on clothing, footwear, school uniforms and fees of girls. These effects largely seem to be on account of women’s participation in the programme. Greater adult participation in NREGA reduces leisure time for both boys and girls and raises time spent in school for younger girls. Women’s dependence on domestic chores as their major activity is also found to fall. Overall, the consumption effects indicate a likely improvement of children’s welfare, especially of girls. It is also reassuring that, contrary to existing social norms about gender roles, girls are unlikely to take time off from school to perform domestic tasks on account of greater adult participation in the programme.