peer-reviewed articles


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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