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Title: Essays on urbanisation and governance in developing countries
Author: Nagpal, Karan
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 7375
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the role of the state in shaping economic outcomes in rapidly urbanising developing countries. Increasing the effectiveness of the state is a major challenge facing most developing countries today. Chapter 1 focusses on one important factor that constrains the state's ability to provide public goods to all citizens: citizens' physical remoteness from their administrators. Using rich data on village India, and a spatial regression discontinuity design, this chapter shows that greater distance to administration reduces a village's access to public goods and worsens economic outcomes. Villages that are more remote from their administrators have fewer roads, schools, health centers and less irrigation. In turn, their residents have lower incomes, fewer assets, less literacy, and are more likely to be employed in agriculture. At least for roads, these effects are not driven by the higher cost of construction in remote villages, but higher cost of monitoring road quality. These results suggest that reducing the distance between the state and its citizens, and changing incentives for bureaucrats, can help to mitigate the large spatial disparities in living standards observed within many developing countries. In addition to hosting administrative headquarters, cities are also large goods and labour markets, and have been a major driver of recent employment growth in de- veloping countries. Chapter 2 uses newly matched and geocoded data from India's Economic and Population Censuses to study how growing cities affect the economic structure in neighbouring villages. Instrumenting for employment growth in cities using a Bartik (shift-share) instrument, the chapter finds that 10% higher growth in manufacturing employment in the nearest city reduces the growth in manufacturing employment in the village by 1.8%, though it does not affect employment growth in other rural non-farm sectors. The effects are stronger for villages located close to larger towns and cities. Further, the effects are stronger for villages that are less suited for manufacturing activities, such as more remote villages and villages that lack paved roads. Finally, Chapter 3 examines the effect of property titles on housing investment deci- sions of low-income urban households, using data from Delhi's resettlement localities. It finds that more secure property titles are not associated with a higher probability of engaging in housing investment, with higher levels of housing investment, or indeed with measures of housing quality. The results are robust to using matching estimators. The null results can be explained by the by the limited differences in perceived evic- tion risk between titled and non-titled households, and by low reliance on the formal financial sector by all households. These results suggest that urban property titling programs in developing countries can be more successful if they also expand access to complementary inputs, such as the formal financial sector.
Supervisor: Gollin, Douglas ; Javorcik, Beata Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Development economics