peer-reviewed articles


In an econometric analysis of data from 242 villages across 18 states in India, Anirudh Tagat and his co-authors investigate the incidence of caste-based conflicts and how they are typically resolved in rural India. Panchayats were found to be a key mediator in such conflicts and can be empowered to mitigate future conflicts.


Academics and policymakers are increasingly looking to understand the underlying behavioural motives for tax compliance in developing and developed countries. Contemporary models of tax compliance view the decision to evade as an act of dishonesty, and experimental approaches have tested the impact of social norms in influencing such behaviour. India is a prime avenue to explore such an intervention given the lack of past research in this area as well as recent policy focus on curbing tax evasion and widening the tax base. This paper provides an adapted behavioural intervention for curbing tax evasion in India tailored for its unique socio-cultural context. We outline the experimental design and potential challenges in implementation. Implications for policy and potential areas of government intervention are provided, such as adopting a stance of legitimate power that aims to build trust among citizens and the government, and improve tax morale.


The impact of restricted and unrestricted fiscal grants on tax effort of panchayats is examined using nationally representative panel data on finances. Three pathways are proposed through which these impacts accrue: wages, profits, and incentives. In order to deal with the simultaneities of grants received and taxation, a system of equations is estimated simultaneously, where the first stage equations predict the grants. The results show that a wage impact on taxation exists, but is very small and the productivity impact of grants on taxes is negligible. This means that incentive effects associated with the specifics of the intergovernmental fiscal system in the states are the main determinant of village taxation. Several policy conclusions are advanced.


Sanitation policies in India have primarily focused on infrastructure development, through building latrines and toilets. Given the persistence of open defecation in India despite such efforts, emphases on behavioral change interventions are crucial. We explore why and how the dual nature of purity and degradation in public and private spaces is relevant to such problems. In the context of sanitation and health policies in India, we propose an intervention that exploits social norms associated with purity via the use of religious imagery in public spaces as a deterrent for unhygienic sanitation behaviors. This intervention falls within the framework of nudging, which has received great emphasis in recent policy discussions. In the absence of empirical data on the intervention, this paper takes into account considerations of ethics, implications, cost, and scalability; suggestions on implementing the intervention at various levels of government are provided keeping in mind India’s socio-cultural context. 

  • Tagat, A. & Kapoor, H. (2017). The trust broker game: a three-player trust game with probabilistic returns and information asymmetry. Economics Discussion Papers, No 2017-33, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Available at


This paper experimentally investigates trust and trustworthiness in a repeated and sequential three-player trust game with probabilistic returns and information asymmetry. It adds to the existing literature by combining experimental features from recent work in the trust game. We use random variations in the multiplier value, a third player without an initial endowment, undisclosed termination rules, and variations in information availability related to transactions. Our framework is novel in that the game continues even if the first player transfers no amount to the second player. Using participants from India, the results are broadly consistent with past evidence on the trust game. All players are more trusting when information of their transfers and earnings are made available to other players. The third player (termed the "trust broker") transfers a larger amount when information on transfers is disclosed to other players. We find that information availability leads to a significant increase in the trust broker’s reciprocity, as defined by the amount that is returned to Player 2. Social desirability, cultural contexts, and learning effects are discussed in terms of scope for future research.


This study aims to investigate intra-household bargaining outcomes elicited in an artefactual field experiment design where participants completed a purchase task of real commodities. Married couples separately expressed their initial preferences over commodities. The bargaining process in the experiment was exogenously introduced by sharing information about partners’ preferences in the treatment group. We hypothesized that the spouse with weaker bargaining position at the household level would consider the information of their partner’s preferences while making own consumption decisions more compared to their partner. Therefore, they may deviate from their own preferences when purchasing commodities. More than 230 married couples from two villages in the Tamil Nadu state of India participated in the experiment. It was observed that information about partners’ spending preferences resulted in reduced final allocations for female participants. However, the deviation was not significantly different from the original intention to spend. Therefore, information about partners’ preferences may not be an effective medium to elicit bargaining power in the context of jointly-consumed household commodities. Subgroup analyses were performed to identify any heterogeneous treatment effects.

  • Borooah, V. K., & Tagat, A. (2016). Political participation in rural India: A village-level study. In N. Schofield & G. Caballero (Eds.), State, institutions and democracy: Contributions of political economy. Geneva, Switzerland: Springer International. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-44582-3_7


If countries have a ‘unique selling point’ then India’s must surely be that, with over 700 million voters, it is the world’s largest democracy. Allied to this is the enthusiasm with which Indians have embraced the electoral process. The turnout in Indian national elections has been over 62% in 10 of the last 15 national elections with 66% of eligible voters voting the 2014 Lok Sabha (Parliamentary) elections; the last time that a US Presidential election came close to matching this was the 60% turnout in the 1968 election between Nixon and Humphrey. Against this backdrop, this paper uses village level data for India on individual voters to ask what are the factors which determine the probability of whether an individual votes? Is this probability greater for national compared to local elections? And is there evidence that people are more likely to vote today than they were in the past?  Allied to these questions is another set of questions relating to the choice of candidates.  What are the factors that make for women’s autonomy in voting, meaning that they voted without reference to their spouses’ instructions? What are the factors which contribute to people voting for candidates who are of their own caste that is, ‘group identity’ voting? And, lastly, what are the factors which contribute to people voting for candidates who have a reputation for honesty and fairness?

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