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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016
The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught o ... read on »
Debate: The Aadhaar Bill
Posted on: 02 May 2016
In a debate on the Aadhaar Bill, commentators from academia and civil society will ... read on »

Tag: consumption

Sacrificing consumption to mitigate catastrophic risks
Timothy Besley , Avinash Dixit
Posted on: 26 May 2017
Topics:   Environment


Many scientists agree that the probability of a rare environmental disaster increases as the stock of greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. This column asks how much consumption current generations should be willing to sacrifice to reduce the risk of such a future catastrophe. If there were a way of immediately eliminating the risk of all future catastrophes, society should be willing to sacrifice 16% of its consumption in perpetuity to achieve this. A sacrifice of 5.8% of annual consumption could bring about a 30% reduction in emissions, in line with the reductions contemplated in agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol.
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Price risk and poverty
Lucie Gadenne , Sam Norris , Monica Singhal , Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 15 May 2017

There is an ongoing policy debate in India on whether grain entitlements under PDS should be converted into cash transfers. This column shows that in the face of high price variability, in-kind transfers such as the PDS can be superior to cash transfers as they could significantly reduce the strength of the relationship between prices and caloric intake, hence, shielding households from price risk.
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Consumption spikes and election days
Shabana Mitra , Anirban Mitra , Arnab Mukherji
Posted on: 20 Apr 2017
Topics:   Political Economy


There is ample anecdotal evidence on political parties bribing voters with cash or consumption goods prior to elections, in India and other developing countries. However, there is an expected lack of hard evidence on the extent and form of vote-buying. Using data from Indian states, this column analyses consumption patterns of households around elections, and finds a spike for some items just before elections.
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How agricultural debt waiver impacts beneficiary households
Mrinal Mishra
Posted on: 02 Feb 2017
Topics:   Finance , Agriculture


How a large-scale and unanticipated debt-relief programme impacts beneficiary households is a question that has not been clearly answered by the existing literature. This column analyses the impact of India’s Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme of 2008. It finds that beneficiary households increase precautionary savings by increasing investment in jewellery as they anticipate higher credit constraints in the post-waiver period. Consumption levels remain unaffected.
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Against the tide: Deaton’s economics
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 17 Dec 2015

In a tribute to Angus Deaton, recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics, Reetika Khera, who did her post-doctorate research at Princeton University under Deaton, outlines his India-specific contributions both as a rigorous economist and a public intellectual. She discusses Deaton’s great concern with measurement issues, and the over-reliance on randomised controlled trials as evidence for policymaking; and his support of government action for social policy.
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When higher volatility is good news
Rudrani Bhattacharya , Ila Patnaik
Posted on: 16 Dec 2015
Topics:   Finance


Conventional wisdom suggests that access to financial services such as banks and bond markets, providing savings and borrowing instruments, allows smoothing consumption over lifetime, irrespective of income fluctuations. Yet, India and other emerging economies have witnessed an increase in consumption volatility relative to income volatility after financial sector development. This column argues that large permanent income shocks in emerging economies explain this puzzle.
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Angus Deaton’s ideas for India
Diane Coffey , Dean Spears
Posted on: 30 Oct 2015

In a tribute to Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel laureate in Economics, Diane Coffey and Dean Spears – former graduate students of Prof. Deaton at Princeton University – review some of his work on the well-being of the poor in India, and discuss the paradoxes and puzzles that still remain.
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Angus Deaton: The real world economist
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 20 Oct 2015
Tags:   consumption


In a tribute to Angus Deaton, recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, outlines Deaton’s contribution to economic and policy analysis, and to bridging the gap between theory and empirics. He also highlights the strong connection to India in his work.
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Can MNREGA improve credit worthiness of participating households?
Subhasish Dey
Posted on: 11 Apr 2014

Based on household survey data from West Bengal, this column analyses the impact of MNREGA on economic outcomes of participating households. It finds that the ‘local’, ‘guaranteed’ and ‘government-related’ nature of MNREGA work helps improve credibility of workers with potential lenders such as grocery store owners, if they participate in the programme in a sustained manner. Access to informal credit helps improve consumption.
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Do wives care more about household welfare than husbands?
Utteeyo Dasgupta , Subha Mani
Posted on: 24 Feb 2014
Topics:   Gender
Tags:   consumption


Social science literature shows that women promote household welfare more than men. This column examines if consumption choices of husbands and wives change, depending on whether they have to work to earn the money that they are spending. It is found that wives’ preferences for joint household consumption remain largely independent of whether they work to earn the money, or receive it without working.
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How labels influence the decision to buy genetically modified food
Sangeeta Bansal , Sujoy Chakravarty , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 28 Oct 2013
Tags:   consumption


A regulation mandating labelling for all packaged products has been in effect in India since the beginning of this year. This column examines the role of information provided by labels in the decision of consumers to buy genetically modified food. It is found that Indians have a lower threat perception of genetically modified ingredients as compared to Europeans.
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The role of Bt cotton in improving food security
Shahzad Kouser , Matin Qaim
Posted on: 24 Jun 2013
Topics:   Agriculture


The role of genetically modified crops in the fight against hunger remains disputed. The debate primarily focuses on whether or not these crops can contribute to sustainable increases in food production. However, food security is not only a question of production, but also of economic and social access to food. This column summarises research showing that the adoption of genetically modified cotton has improved food security among Indian smallholder farmers.
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Why is poverty declining so slowly in India?
Arka Roy Chaudhuri , Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 25 Feb 2013

Despite two decades of fast growth of per capita GDP, India has experienced a very slow decline in poverty. The column suggests that this disconnect between GDP growth and poverty decline can largely be attributed to the positive feedback emanating from a skill biased growth pattern.
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