Essays in Macroeconomics and Development
This dissertation consists of three chapters. The first chapter, "The Supply-Side Effects of India's Demonetization", investigates the supply-side effects of a unique monetary shock – the 2016 Indian demonetization – that made 86% of currency in circulation illegal overnight. Exploiting cross-sectional variation in firm and industry characteristics that correlate with cash usage and exposure to the informal sector, I find that firms that use cash more and obtain larger shares of labor or material inputs from the informal sector, experienced declines in their labor and material shares after demonetization. I also show that casual laborers were more likely to report being unemployed in the months following demonetization. These findings document a supply channel for demonetization and also show that cash plays an essential role in India's informal sector. Crucially, given that India's formal sector is highly dependent on the informal sector for labor and materials, any shock to the supply of cash is likely to have affected the economy as a whole. In the second chapter, "Directed Lending and Misallocation: Evidence from India", joint with Deeksha Kale, we leverage a natural experiment to study whether targeted credit policy can help reduce misallocation. In 2006, the Government of India modified the definition of small firms thereby expanding eligibility to a directed credit program. We show that the credit policy changed eligible firms' input wedges and thereby reduced misallocation. For firms with initially higher MRPK, the policy resulted in relatively larger increases in physical capital and decreased the MRPK. This policy moderately reduced within-industry dispersion of MRPK and increased aggregate productivity. Finally, in the third chapter, "Victims of Consequence: Evidence on Child Outcomes using Microdata from a Civil War", joint with Sajala Pandey, we study the short-run impacts of violent events on child time allocation, curative health-care, and education. Exploiting spatial and temporal variation in exposure to local-level armed conflict, we find that an increase in violent events: (i) leads to an increase in contemporaneous hours worked by children, with the effect being substantial for agricultural work; (ii) decreases the likelihood of parents taking their children to visit a health-care facility to seek curative care; and (iii) results in a reduced likelihood of attending school, along with a decline in years of education. Overall, the results indicate that the war affected schooling and time allocation of boys whereas girls were less likely to get curative health-care.