Networks and anti-poverty programs: The NREG experience

Author name: 
Shylashri Shankar
Raghav Gaiha

Governments struggle with the reality that the beneficiaries of anti-poverty programs are powerless to influence policies and stem the possibility of capture of benefits by the non-poor. Networks – social and political – are supposed to increase the ability of the less-powerful to access their entitlements. The paper assesses whether socially and politically networked households do in fact have better awareness of the components of the program and of the processes of decision making, and whether such networking makes them more likely to vocalize their dissatisfaction when their entitlements are threatened. India’s national rural employment guarantee scheme’s (NREG) institutional design (mandating village assemblies to authorize decisions on the projects) makes it a good test case. Our results show that links to social and political networks do significantly increase the awareness of the villagers on the program’s components and enhances their ability to seek redress of their grievances.

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