Publications and work under review


"Untouchability, Homicides and Water Access" with Mathieu Couttenier, forthcoming, Journal of Comparative Economics
This paper contributes to a burgeoning literature on the role of social norms in preventing some groups from accessing public goods. We examine the case of untouchability rules in India that forbid sharing water with low castes. We show that homicide rates of low castes individuals at the district level are positively and significantly correlated with public access to water, while no such relationship can be found as far as higher caste homicide rates are concerned. This relationship, which is robust to many econometric specifications, is seen as a testimony of the upholding of untouchability practices, despite having been outlawed for more than 60 years by the Constitution of India. This paper provides the first quantitative assessment of the link between access to public goods, untouchability norms and violence at the sub-continent scale. Finally, this study underlines the need for policy makers to partly shift their attention from the quantitative allocation of public goods to the effective access to these goods.

Working paper is titled "Untouchability and Public Infrastructure" and is available here / Published version is available here

"The Burden of Caste on Social Identity in India", (2014) Journal of Development Studies, vol 50, Issue 10, pp:1411-1429
This paper uses the World Values Survey to investigate the determinants of perceived social status in India. Caste is still the largest determinant, yet not the only one, as income, education and occupation are all relevant factors. However, only unlikely improvements in those economic attributes could offset the burden of being from a low caste or tribe on perceived social rank. This study is part of the literature that shows how the internalisation of prejudice and long-lasting discrimination may have impaired individuals’ self-esteem. The results stress the need to account for self-depreciation when assessing the efficiency of affirmative action policies.

Published version is available here

"Confidence in Public Bodies and Electoral Participation in India" (2013) with Vani K. Borooah, European Journal of Development Research, vol 25 pp: 555-583
Most studies on distribution in developing countries are concerned with the distribution of material resources, most usually income or consumption, and sometimes wealth. On the other hand, most studies on social capital are grounded in countries of the developed world. In this article, we depart from both traditions by analysing the distribution of social capital in a developing country (India). In so doing, we establish a link with the subject matter of political economy by examining the relationship between the distribution of social capital, the distribution of confidence in public bodies and electoral participation. Results show that participation in social activities is strongly correlated to trust in public bodies, which in turn favours participation in political life through voting. However, contrary to results obtained in different contexts, individuals belonging to discriminated groups tend to have more confidence in institutions.

Published version is available
here / Working paper version is available here

" Impact de la fragmentation sociale sur la production de biens publics : polarisation et patronage en Uttar Pradesh et au Bihar, Inde" (2010), Revue d'économie du développement, vol 24 (3) pp: 49-78
A vast recent literature has stressed social fragmentation's negative impact on the provision of public goods. It has been established theoretically that social fragmentation engenders discord and thereby undermines public goods provision. Empirical research has produced mixed results about this relationship. On the one hand it rarely holds for all the goods and on another hand it appears attenuated at the micro-level. Three points ought to be considered. First, the negative role attributed to social fragmentation rests upon the actuality of a relationship between social antagonisms and ethnic diversity. Yet, such an actuality is to be proved. Second, should such a relationship exist, polarization indices would be more appropriate than the traditional fractionalization index used so far in the literature. Third, theoretical works have set aside the possibility of ethnic patronage in accessing public goods. Nevertheless, it is a central issue as patronage is common in developing countries. In this event, a positive relationship could be found between social fragmentation and the presence of public goods. This article aims at showing that such a positive relationship does exist, at least in parts of India, as a consequence of caste patronage. It also shown that polarization is irrelevant as social antagonisms do not seem to be an obstacle to the provision of public goods.

Published version is available here / English working paper version is available here