Mitigating the impact of negative shocks in early childhood

Can MGNREGS buffer negative shocks in early childhood? Evidence from Andhra Pradesh

Speaker: Aparajita Dasgupta, Fred.H.Bixby Postdoctoral Fellow,  Population Council
Chair: Dr Jyotsna Puri, Deputy Executive Director and Head of Evaluation Office, 3ie
Date: 23 May, 3.30-5.00 p.m.
Venue: ISID Complex, Plot No.4, Vasant Kunj Institutional Area, New Delhi

This study examines the role of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in buffering the negative effects of early childhood exposure to rainfall shocks on long-term health outcomes. Exploiting the spatial and temporal variation in MGNREGS coverage, the study estimates the extent to which nutritional shocks in early childhood can be offset by access to the programme. The study employs a unique identification strategy by integrating detailed administrative records of drought shock and phase-wise roll-out information of MGNREGS with a household level panel data-the Young Lives survey, whic was conducted over three waves (2002, 2007 and 2009-10) in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. 

The study finds that while MGNREGS does not help correct for long-term past health deficiencies, it is useful in buffering recent drought shocks, which varies by policy relevant sub-groups. An increase in 22 working days per household increases height-for-age by around 0.26 standard deviations which is bridging about half the rural-urban gap in average height-for-age score. The programme is most effective for the case of lower educated households and scheduled castes, who are presumably more vulnerable in the face of climatic variability. Hence, there is much room to reap in the indirect benefits of the programme by ensuring food security issues of these households.

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