Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Document Type



India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGs) is the largest public works program in the world with an objective to ensure rural livelihood security by generating employment through infrastructure projects. This thesis is comprised of three essays investigating the MGNREGs’ impact on rural communities and the labor market. The first essay examined the targeting accuracy of the program. I simultaneously controlled for the self-selection bias and endogeneity bias between poverty and program participation using an extended probit model. Using data from National Sample Survey (NSS) 2014, I find that households closer to the poverty line are more likely to participate in the program as compared to households belonging to the poorest of the poor stratum indicating a bias against the poorest households in the MGNREGs. The second essay investigated the impact of the MGNREGs on rural livelihood security through employment of rural casual laborers. Endogeneity between employment and program participation is addressed through a generalized method of moments estimation using 2019 NSS data. The insignificant relationship between unemployment of rural casual labor and program participation indicates that the program’s attempt to ensure the livelihood security of rural casual laborers by addressing the intermittent unemployment faced by them is not entirely successful. The third essay explored females’ program participation in the context of gender inequalities at the district level using NSS, 2014 data. Gender inequalities are captured through an index at the district level. While I do not expect endogeneity bias between contextual gender inequalities with females’ participation in the MGNREGs, I controlled for possible self-selection bias. The results show that females’ participation is significantly higher in gender equal districts as compared to gender unequal districts, thus, qualifying the existing evidence of positive impact of the MGNREGs on females’ participation. To summarize, my analysis shows that benefits of the MGNREGs are not reaching the poorest of the poor households, rather benefiting the relatively better off households closer to the poverty line. The MGNREGs is not significantly impacting the unemployment of rural casual labor. Finally, the positive impact of the MGNREGs on females’ participation significantly varies with contextual gender inequalities.



Committee Chair

Bampasidou, Maria

Available for download on Thursday, March 14, 2024