Job Market Paper Social Insurance and Conflict: Evidence from India

Abstract: Can public interventions persistently reduce conflict? This paper studies whether social insurance is effective in reducing conflict. Adverse income shocks have been empirically and theoretically identified as robust drivers of conflict. An effective social insurance system  moderates the impact of adverse shocks on household incomes, and hence, could attenuate the link between these shocks and conflict. This paper shows that a public employment program in India provides social insurance. The program guarantees 100 days of employment at minimum wages providing an alternative source of income following bad harvests. This has an indirect pacifying effect. By moderating the link between productivity shocks and incomes, the program uncouples productivity shocks and conflict.

Download the paper here, Coverage by IGC, Ideas for India, India at LSE.  An earlier version entitled “Can Workfare Programs Moderate Violence? Evidence from India” was circulated as EOPP Working Paper  Number 53, 2014.


  1. The Welfare Cost of Lawlessness: Evidence from Somali Piracy, joint with Tim Besley and Hannes-Felix Mueller. Forthcoming in the Journal of the European Economics Association.
  2. Group Lending Without Joint Liability, joint with Jon de Quidt and Maitreesh Ghatak. Forthcoming in the Journal of Development Economics.

Working Papers

  1. Fracking Growth, CEP Working Paper 1278, 2014.
  2. On the Comparative Advantage of U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Shale Gas Revolution, joint with Rabah Arezki. Submitted; draft available upon request.
  3. Market Structure and Borrower Welfare in Microfinance, joint with Jon de Quidt and Maitreesh Ghatak.
  4. More than an Urban Legend: The long-term socio-economic Effects of Unplanned Fertility Shocks, joint with Amar Shanghavi and Oliver Pardo, Submitted. An earlier version of the paper had the title “An Urban Legend?! Power Rationing, Fertility and its Effects on Mothers”, and circulates as CEP Working Paper 1247, 2013.

Work in Progress

Energy- and Resource Economics

  1. Energy Density and Local Comparative Advantage: Shale Gas Boom and the Allocation of
    Industrial Activity
  2. The Redistributional Effects of Environmental Policy: Evidence from Germany joint with Guo Xu and Christian Westermeier.

Development Economics

  1. The Persistent effects of Private vs. Colonial Rule: Evidence from 19th century Indonesia, joint with Priya Mukherjee,  Project funded with a grant from the History Project 
  2. Hot Heads: Temperature, Income Shocks and Crime in India, joint with Jon Colmer and Benjamin Guin. Slides available upon request.
  3. Estimating Travel Cost through Mobile Phone Use Data, joint Rabah Arezki (IMF), Jorge Antonio Chan-Lau (IMF) and Amadou Sy (Brookings). Proposal selected as part of the Orange Data for Development Senegal Challenge. Blog Post about Big Data for Development at Brookings
  4. Developing a Micro-Level Conflict Data Set for South Asia