India’s latest and largest workfare program: evaluation and recommendations

This paper evaluates the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) of 2005. MGNREGA provides last-resort employment to rural Indians and guarantees beneficiaries one hundred workdays per year, which consist of building and maintaining local infrastructure. I find that that although the program has had strong short-term results, as it currently stands it will likely not generate lasting impacts. Due to a lack of skills development and durable infrastructure, workers remain dependent on the scheme for income, and the maintenance of infrastructure is dependent on continued program funding. In addition, poor oversight allows for corruption and decreases effectiveness. I describe MGNREGA’s weakest areas, as well as provide recommendations for how to refine them.