“Bank-branch expansion and labor market outcomes: Evidence from India”

Abstract: In 2005, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) initiated a branch authorization policy reform that incentivizes banks to expand new branches in the “underbanked” districts defined as having a district population per bank branch higher than the national average. This paper uses a regression discontinuity design to explore the impacts of this bank branch expansion policy on labor market outcomes. Using household data from the National Sample Survey matched with RBI’s district-level banking data, I find that, after four years, the bank branch expansion policy caused a roughly 15% increase in individuals’ daily wage and a 17% increase in weekly total labor earnings in the treatment districts relative to the control districts. Although there is no significant impact on overall employment, the results suggest that the policy reform leads to a reallocation of labor from agriculture to non-agriculture. I also find that the individuals in the treatment districts are more likely to report being regular employees but less likely to report being casual laborers relative to control districts.



"Climate shocks and social tolerance",  with Idris Kambala


Is Maternal Employment Detrimental for Children’s Nutritional Status? Evidence from Bangladesh, with Rejaul Karim Bakshi and M. Mehedi Hasan. Review of Development Economics, 26(1), February 2022.

Abstract: This paper explores the effect of maternal employment on the nutritional status of children below age 5 years in Bangladesh using data from the 2014 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey. Since mothers’ choice to participate in the labor market is endogenous, the estimation of the causal effect of maternal employment on child health is statistically challenging. To correct for the endogeneity of maternal employment, we employ instrumental variable (IV) estimation. While our ordinary least squares results show that mothers’ employment has no significant effect on children's nutritional outcome, the IV estimates suggest that maternal employment significantly decreases children's height-for-age Z-score. This result is contrary to conventional wisdom advocating for maternal employment to positively affect child health and well-being. We, therefore, argue for effective policy interventions—such as childcare centers at workplaces, flexibility in working hours including part-time options for mothers, restraining child marriages, and strengthening maternal and child health-care services through community health centers—to foster children's health as well as maternal employment in the country. 

Climate sensitivity of wheat yield in Bangladesh: Implications for the United Nations sustainable development goals 2 and 6, with M. Mehedi Hasan, Mohammad Alauddin, Abdur Rasid Sarkar, and Mahiuddin Alamgir. Land use Policy, 87:104023, September 2019.

Abstract: Significant manifestations of adverse effects of climate change exist for crop agriculture throughout the developing world including Bangladesh. Despite wheat being the second most important staple food, any rigorous analysis of its sensitivity to climate change remains an unexplored area of research. This paper fills this gap by investigating wheat yield sensitivity to climate change over time and across climatic zones using 45-year district level panel data. Results revealed rising trends in average seasonal temperature and number of seasonal dry days and downward trends in planting and flowering stage rainfall. The rise in average temperature and number of dry days adversely affected wheat yield while greater planting and flowering stage rainfall has improved yield. Significant variations across regions and a positive trend over time were evident. The study’s policy implications are explored in terms of the potential to expand wheat cultivation and its role in achieving SDG 2 regarding food security and SDG 6 concerning sustainable water management. Strengthening institutional support systems, market accessibility, science-driven climate change adaptations - including generation and dissemination of drought tolerant wheat varieties and enhancing farmers’ capacity to switch from rice to wheat, constitute key areas of policy intervention critically important for achieving SDG 2 and SDG 6.