I have recently joined as a Lecturer at the University of Bristol after studying for my PhD at the University of York. My research focusses on the interplay of geography, institutions and infrastructure in the long run development of India. I use historical data and GIS mapping to analyse patterns of development across the subcontinent, with an emphasis on literacy.
Before my PhD, I worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute for Government, London on a ESRC funded project on the Political Economy of Growth and Institutional Reform in the UK, in partnership with the University of Strathclyde and the LSE.
PhD in Economics, ongoing
University of York
MSc (Research) in Economic History, 2013
London School of Economics
Integrated MA in Economics, 2012
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Coelho, Miguel, Sebastian Dellepiane-Avellaneda, and Vigyan Ratnoo. 2016. “The political economy of housing in England”. New Political Economy. 22 (1): 31-60.
The role of institutions in long run development has been the focus of much research, but identifying and measuring the causal impact remains fraught with difficulties. This paper uses a Geographical Regression Discontinuity (GRD) design on a unique village level data set from colonial India to estimate the impact of different land tenure types on long run rural literacy. Exploiting an early 19th century historical quirk in the placement of these land tenures in a small, otherwise homogeneous area, this paper is able to show sizable effects on literacy persist into the new millennium. The historical placement of railway lines is also analysed, with results indicating that the full benefit of the railways for development is likely to be conditional on land tenure type.
The Certainty of Uncertainty: The progress of literacy in colonial India in the presence of agricultural shocks
Agricultural shocks have always been defining feature of Indian agriculture - the varying nature of rainfall patterns across the country significantly influences rural incomes and development. More consistent rainfall enables farmers to maintain a certain level of income and enables investments over a long time horizon, while frequent weather shocks force farmers to employ costly ex-ante and ex-post strategies that lead to adverse effects on income and developmental indicators. This study analyses the historical roots of current literacy patterns in India. Using historical data on agricultural shocks and literacy, this paper employs an Instrumental Variables (IV) strategy to analyse the impact of agricultural shocks on colonial era literacy. Results show that downside risk in particular is an important determinant of literacy across colonial India.