August 30, 2016

Faculty Spotlight: Shareen Joshi

Faculty Spotlight: Shareen Joshi
My summer has been spent working on three separate projects in India.

1. Can Environmental Policy Reduce Infant Mortality? Evidence from the Ganga Pollution Cases

This study examines the relationship between pollution and health in India. Along with my coauthors, Quy Toan Do and Samuel Stolper, I studied a ruling by the Supreme Court of India targeting industrial pollution in the Ganga River. We constructed a dataset on pollution, policy, legislation, and children’s mortality. We used geographic information system (GIS) maps of rivers to identify the location of pollution monitors and matched them to location of birth for children in a large demographic dataset. This enabled us to quantify the adverse impact of water pollution on infant health at specific places along the river.

An innovative aspect of our study is its exploration of the exact mechanisms of impact. Our research showed that the relationship between pollution policy and health is driven not only by changes in pollution induced by the policy but also other factors such as education and impacts of wages.

Our paper is submitted for publication in the Review of Economics and Statistics.

2. Large-scale Microcredit Program for Women in Rural India

My second research project is focused on the implementation of a large-scale microcredit program for women in rural India. My coauthor Vijayendra Rao and I have examined the differences between national or sub-national governments in implementing large-scale development projects in rural Rajasthan.

We gathered qualitative and quantitative data from a natural experiment where a large national flagship project was implemented in two different ways. Some sub-regions were given to the state government of Rajasthan to manage, while the government of India centrally managed other sub-regions.

We found that the nature of top-down management had a large bearing on the quality of local-level facilitation. While both central and locally-managed facilitators achieved similar financial performance, the centrally-managed facilitators were less likely to engage in collective action, be politically active, or collaborate with civil society organizations. These results raise important question on how responsibilities for participatory development projects should be devolved, and on how the nature of management affects the sustainability of bottom-up interventions.

Our paper is submitted for publication in the Journal of Development Studies, and it will soon be published in the World Bank Working Paper series.

3. Children's Leadership Program

My third project is in its initial stages. Professor Irfan Nooruddin and I will work with the Global Education and Leadership Foundation (TGELF) to examine the effectiveness of leadership and skills training programs on the mindsets and behaviors of children who are exposed to an innovative skills training program.

The skills training program, currently operational in more than 100 schools of Rajasthan, identifies potential young leaders with strong values and supports them to develop to their full potential. Our research will conduct activities in two types of schools: (1) schools that have received the TGELF programs in the past year; (2) schools that have not received the TGELF program until now. In each school, we will use behavioral games to identify the program’s impact.

Shareen Joshi is an assistant professor in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service whose work primarily focuses on poverty alleviation an demographic change in the developing world. She holds a B.A. from Reed College and a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.