Research

Current Projects:

1. Analyzing the spread of COVID-19 in India with Dr. Anaka Aiyar and Anita Christopher.

2. Spatial Heterogeneity in Crop Diversity and Resilience to Droughts in India.

3. Studying gender disparity in travel mobility in Indian cities with Dr. Sowmya Dhanaraj, Dr. Vidya Mahambare and Anita Christopher

Crop Diversity and Resilience to  Droughts: Evidence from Indian Agriculture

Masters' Dissertation

Agricultural intensification and technological specialization have led to the prevalence of mono-culture in India. Diversity within crop species has been gradually declining since the Green Revolution in the 1960s. With increasingly frequent weather shocks, agricultural systems face the risk of yield and income losses. A quantitative assessment using district level agricultural and weather data, for the period 1966-2015, is used to understand whether crop diversity can cushion yield and income losses for farmers during droughts. General trends in diversity levels are also observed in the study. Different specifications of drought are used to check for robustness. Spatial trends in crop diversification also revealed some anomalies to these general results since some states in the country have unique cropping patterns.

Convergence of regional trends in Crop Diversity, 1966-2015.

Evaluating the allocative efficiency of Renewable Energy Generation aid to recipient countries and their subsequent utilization

Research Term Paper

Increasing volumes of resources are being distributed as aid to recipient countries. Donors follow different principles on how they distribute aid and the resultant e ffect on the recipient's welfare is not always optimal. Inefficient allocation of aid can lead to sub-optimal use of the available resources. In this study, a panel data of 61 countries over 12 years, between 2004 and 2016, is used to evaluate the efficiency in allocating Renewable Energy Generation aid. A fixed effects econometrics specification is used for the analysis. The data is integrated from different sources including Creditor Reporting System of OECD (for aid), Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy (for air quality indicator- `Environmental Health- Air Quality' from the Environmental Performance Index), World Bank (for Worldwide Governance indicators, health and economic variables). The effect of aid on recipient's air quality is analyzed, and subsequently, the effect of aid on life expectancy, through the air quality link, is also studied. The influence of past air quality is caricatured as vulnerability and its effect on aid distribution is analyzed. The results show that aid allocation is a function of vulnerability, but the allocation has not lead to any signifi cant increase in health standards of the population.

Geographic distribution of aid allocation and level of air quality.

Analyzing the Determinants of Farmers’ Enrollment in PMFBY: A Case Study of Sivagangai and Theni districts.

Research Project at the Reserve Bank of India

Agricultural insurance is a necessity in India. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, which was introduced in 2016, provides the much needed relief for farmers against the loss of revenue due to crop failure. While the scheme has improved the insurance coverage from before, it still has not achieved its target coverage of 50 percent of the gross cultivated area. The paper tries to understand the drawbacks of the scheme to suggest ways to improve the enrollment rates. The efficiency of crop insurance schemes are observed to be affected by issues with computation of risk profile of insurance units, low level of financial literacy among farmers, inadequate data collection, and lack of timely claim settlements. And in analyzing the scheme’s performance, the paper tries to study what incentivizes the farmers to enroll in the insurance policy, and what factors they take into consideration during this decision making process. A binomial logit model is used for the estimation. This paper also recommends some policy changes that could help improve the performance and the impact of the scheme.

Two agricultural districts of Tamil Nadu: Sivagangai and Theni were chosen for the study, and 110 farmers were interviewed. A stark difference in the perception of the scheme was noticed between the farmers of the two districts. Farmers of Sivagangai regarded the scheme to be highly beneficial, and the district showed good enrollment rates. On the other hand, farmers of Theni did not feel incentivized to enrol. This difference could be because of the water resource endowed to each region. Theni is a water abundant district, whereas Sivagangai is a drought-prone district.

On-field data collection and interaction with farmers at Theni.

Experience in farming was identified as one of the determining factors.

Economic Valuation of the Damages due to Oil Spills:

A review of the 2017 Ennore Oil Spill

Term Paper

The paper is an analysis of how valuation of the damages caused by major oil spills were conducted. The effects of an oil spill is deconstructed into six categories: flora and fauna, mangroves, land, human health, fishing, and tourism. The paper seeks to understand which valuation technique best fits the narrative of each of the effects, to arrive at a basic outline of valuation. The problems and drawbacks of each of those techniques are also outlined. Using the basic outline of oil spills valuation, possible valuation methods for the 2017 Ennore oil spill are discussed.

Some techniques suggested in the Ennore oil spill valuation: collecting willingness to pay information from Turtle Walk participants, calculating loss to fishing community and fish vendors, or estimating health damages for concerned population.

Aftermath of oil spill in Ennore Port, 2017.

Health Insurance in India: A Review of Key Elements, Rationale and Economic Justification

Term Paper

In India, the household private expenditure, which is the out-of-pocket expenditure, constitutes the highest share in the sources of health financing. Public spending on health, as a proportion of GDP, in India is one of the lowest in the world and is the reason for high levels of private expenditure and the health inequities in the country. Health insurance is seen to be one of the widely acknowledged approaches in reducing health inequalities. This paper seeks to analyse the effect of having health insurance on the number of days hospitalised as an indicator of improvement in health outcomes) and on the average out-of-pocket medical expenditure (as an indicator of alleviation of financial burden), using the Indian Human Development Survey-II of 2011-2012. Insurance is found to have positive effect on both the outcomes analysed.

Healthcare Expenditure in India, 2000- 2016.

© 2020 by Madhumitha Srinivasan.