Welfare Schemes and Support Mechanisms

Examining the Evidence on the Effectiveness of India’s Rural Employment Guarantee Act

Author : Raag Bhatia, Shonar Lala Chinoy, Bharat Kaushish, Jyotsna Puri, Vijit Singh Chahar, Hugh Waddington | 2016
Published By: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is the largest employment programme in the world. It aims to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed paid employment per year, in the form of unskilled manual labour, to any household providing interested adult volunteers. This ambitious programme has several objectives in addition to providing economic security, such as creating durable assets (e.g. roads and canals), strengthening natural resource management, empowering rural women, promoting decentralisation, making government processes more transparent, and reinforcing grass-roots procedures for democracy. The evidence base strongly suggests the need for a strategic reorientation of research and evaluation funding towards conducting more theory-based impact evaluations that use a counterfactual, especially when the evidence is readily available and applicable to such methodologies. More studies need to look into how effective MGNREGA is in improving beneficiaries’ and communities’ lives, in particular contexts and for particular groups of beneficiaries, and into whether and how to adapt the programme to improve these impacts, instead of stagnating on highly frequented variables such as beneficiary participation. If studies do look at the impacts on beneficiaries’ lives, we recommend that those studies be designed to disaggregate by key social and structural determinants of inequality and use a suitable gender-relations framework for the overall analysis.

URL : 20170821011816.pdf

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