Events Calendar

YINS Seminar: Emily Breza (Harvard)

Weekly Seminar
Event time: 
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Event description: 

YINS Seminar: Emily Breza (Harvard)

“Effects of caste-based affirmative action in governance on socio-economic networks and resource provision” 

Speaker: Emily Breza
Assistant Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Talk Summary: We study the impacts of political affirmative action for historically disadvantaged caste groups in Bihar, India on village social and economic networks. These networks shape the socio-economic landscape, serving many functions such as facilitating social learning, risk-sharing and public good provision. To estimate the causal impacts of the policy, we conduct surveys in communities around the discontinuity in the state government’s policy assignment rule.        

We have two main findings. First, the marginal constituency assigned to the reservation policy experiences a drop in cross-caste network links and an increase in homophily. Consistent with increased homophily, reservation leads to less social learning when information is introduced to the community – on average there is worse knowledge about health preserving behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Further, the decline in meetings across caste is met with weakened norms about the appropriateness of cross-caste interactions. Second, we turn to resource access and find that the reservation improves access to redistribution schemes as well as the agility of governmental response to provide resources in response to shocks. Both lower and upper castes benefited, indicating no crowd-out at the expense of upper castes.        

Strikingly, we find no decline in the salience of caste concerns and no shifts in beliefs about trustworthiness, competence, or work ethic, among others, across caste. So, the increased homophily is not met with increased animus; norm shifts are driven by meeting shifts. Our findings suggest that there is scope for pairing reservation with other interventions to mitigate the impacts of affirmative action on fractionalization while preserving the resource allocation benefits.      

(joint with Arun Chandrasekhar and M. R. Sharan)  

To Participate:

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    Or Telephone:203-432-9666 (2-ZOOM if on-campus) or 646 568 7788
    Meeting ID: 949 3123 2873
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Speaker Bio: Emily Breza is an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Harvard University. She received her PhD in Economics from MIT and her BA from Yale University. Prior to joining Harvard, Emily held a faculty appointment at Columbia Business School. She has faculty affiliations at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the International Growth Centre, and the Centre for Economic Policy Research.  She is a 2020 recipient of the Sloan Research Fellowship.  

Her research focuses on development economics, social networks, and household finance. She has conducted experiments to optimize information disseminate through village social networks in the context of the Indian demonetization and has studied how the social network interacts with the types of formal and informal financial products common to developing countries. Emily has also developed empirical methods for measuring socio-economic networks.