Corruption in Food Delivery: When are Vulnerable Populations Most Affected?
In developing countries, the efficacy of subsidized food delivery systems is particularly challenged by corruption that can disproportionately affect less powerful areas or less powerful households, thereby steering aid away from the most vulnerable beneficiaries. In this paper, Sriniketh Nagavarapu and others examine how the identity of food delivery agents affects the take-up of vulnerable populations. Specifically, they investigate the take-up of subsidized goods in Uttar Pradesh, India, under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), a system undermined by widespread corruption. Using rich household survey data from the first year of the TPDS, they establish that households from the historically disadvantaged Scheduled Castes exhibit lower take-up when facing non-Scheduled Caste delivery agents. After showing that several potentially reasonable explanations (e.g. discrimination or elite capture) are not consistent with the data, they assess the quantitative impact of the most plausible remaining explanation, which involves monitoring and enforcement.
Sriniketh Nagavarapu is an assistant professor of economics and environmental studies at Brown University. His research is focused on environmental and labor economics in developing countries. Specifically, he is interested in understanding how local institutions manage natural resources and service delivery, and how management effectiveness is shaped by market incentives and the nature of the institutions. His recent work in this area examines the management of fisheries by cooperatives in Mexico and the delivery of food assistance by government-appointed authorities in India. In other work, he has examined how the labor market mediates the link between ethanol production expansion and deforestation in Brazil. Nagavarapu received his Ph.D., M.A., and B.A. from Stanford University. At Brown, he is a faculty associate of the Population Studies and Training Center, Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences, and the Environmental Change Initiative.