WIDER Seminar Series – “Fracking, farmers, and rural electrification in India” & “Why are African ruling elites so enamored with sovereign wealth funds”
UNU-WIDER invites all local and visiting researchers, policy makers, and others working on or interested in development topics to attend its weekly seminar in Helsinki.
The WIDER Seminar Series showcases recent and ongoing work on key topics in development economics.
On 14 March Faraz Usmani and Larissa Nawo, visiting PhD interns at UNU-WIDER, will present their work on rural electrification in India and the link between African elites and their sovereign wealth funds. See the full schedule for the first part of the spring 2018 session here.
Abstract 1 – Fracking, farmers, and rural electrification in India
Access to reliable electricity is believed to be a catalyst for growth and development, yet recent evidence on the impacts of electrification is mixed. We exploit a natural experiment in India to investigate whether large-scale rural electrification is necessary (rather than sufficient) for household welfare and regional economic growth. Smallholders in north-west India grow the vast majority of the world's guar, a crop that yields a potent thickening agent used in hydraulic-fracturing (‘fracking’) fluid. In response to the United States' fracking boom, Indian guar prices increased by nearly 1,000% over 2006–10. Using multiple identification strategies, we first evaluate the impacts of this exogenous income shock on a host of rural-development outcomes. Leveraging population-based discontinuities in the contemporaneous roll-out of India's massive rural electrification scheme, we then investigate the extent to which these impacts are confined to areas electrified before the boom.
Abstract 2 – Why are African ruling elites so enamored with sovereign wealth funds?
In this paper, we argue that in paternalist regimes and weak democratic states, where ruling elites strengthen power through economic fortune, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) look like the new fashion tool to cement hold on power. In fact, SWFs concentrate substantial resources which can be used for several political agendas besides the macroeconomic goals declared. Using a logit regression panel data model, we provide the first cross-national political-economy of the creation and proliferation of SWFs. Results suggest that in Africa ‘autonomy-maximization’ theory has been crucial in shaping the decisions of most ruling elites to set up SWFs. In the end, SWFs are institutions for advancing this undeclared goal.
Registration: no registration needed
Key words: rural electrification, India, African elites, wealth funds, development economics