UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Essays in development economics Ghosh, Arkadev


The first chapter implements a field experiment in India to understand whether the effects of religious diversity on team productivity and worker attitudes depend on a firm's production technology. I randomly assigned Hindu and Muslim workers at a manufacturing plant in West Bengal to religiously mixed or homogeneous teams. Production tasks are categorized as high- or low-dependency based on the degree of continuous coordination required for production. I find that mixed teams are less productive than homogeneous teams in high-dependency tasks, but this effect attenuates completely in four months. In low-dependency tasks, diversity does not affect productivity. Despite lowering short-run productivity, mixing improves out-group attitudes for Hindu workers in high-dependency tasks - but there are little or no effects in low-dependency tasks. Overall, this pattern of results suggests that technology that incentivizes individuals to learn to work together is important in overcoming existing intergroup differences - and leads to improved relations and team performance. The second chapter shows that close-kin marriage, by sustaining tightly-knit family structures, impedes development. We use US state-level bans on cousin marriage for identification. Our measure of cousin marriage comes from the excess frequency of same-surname marriages, a method borrowed from population genetics that we apply to millions of marriage records from 1800 to 1940. We show that state bans on first-cousin marriage did reduce rates of in-marriage, and that affected descendants therefore have higher incomes and more schooling. Our results are consistent with this effect being driven by weakening family ties rather than a genetic channel. The third chapter studies mining activity in Indian states and districts between 1960-2015, and finds that mining intensity gradually decreases as elections approach. This pattern is manifested in output, mining accidents, and mineral licensing. The magnitude of these cycles are determined primarily by two factors: electoral competition and the intensity of Naxalite conflict, an ongoing left-wing insurgency against the Indian government. While mining fatalities are costly during elections, I show that cycles in conflict prone areas are exacerbated in order to minimize the tax base of rebel groups, who thrive on extortion of mining revenues and target elections with violence.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International