Essays on the World's Largest Public-Works Programme: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) of India

  • Subhasish Dey

Student thesis: Phd


India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is a unique initiative in the history of state sponsored social security interventions, which guarantees at least 100 days of employment on local public works to anyone who demands for it. NREGS is in operation since 2006. This is world's largest public-works programme ever, covering around 45 million households every year. Launching of the NREGS indicates a renewal of importance of public-works programme in the global South during the last decade. After 9 years of its continued implementation, there seems to be a dearth of systematic and scientific studies based on grassroots primary survey on how this programme is being implemented and why there is a renewed interest around this programme among the academics and development practitioners across the world.This thesis therefore seeks to understand i) what impacts NREGS created at the household level and ii) the political economy behind its implementation. This thesis comprises of three essays or chapters. Chapter1 and Chapter 3 are based on a threewave household-level longitudinal primary dataset and Chapter 2 is based on a threewave village-level longitudinal primary dataset. All the surveys were conducted between the period 2009 and 2012 in West Bengal state of India. First core chapter of this thesis addresses the research question: what are the impacts of the NREGS participation on household level economic variables and whether participation in NREGS can work as a proxy for collateral in accessing the informal credit for consumption smoothing? Second core chapter addresses the research question: whether the Village Council level ruling political party preferentially allocates the NREGS fund to optimise its chances re-election. Third core chapter addresses the research question: whether there is any non-poor capture of NREGS and whether households' explicit political affiliation with the ruling party matters in obtaining any extra dividend under NREGS.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKatsushi Imai (Supervisor) & Kunal Sen (Supervisor)


  • MG-NREGS, Impact, Nepotism, Clientelism, Panel Data, West Bengal, India

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