Department of Economics, Uppsala University:

Postal address: Nationalekonomiska institutionen, Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Visiting address: Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10 B, 4 fl.
Web page: http://www.nek.uu.se/

Contact person: PhD Ranjula Bali Swain, Assistant Professor, phone: +46 (0)18 471 11 30. Personal web page.

Research connected to South Asia

Ranjula Bali Swain is engaged in research on development finance, poverty, microfinance, small enterprise development, impact assessment and child-labour. Her research combines theoretical issues with empirical research. She has research experience from Asia, Africa, Central America and Eastern Europe. In the past she has also worked as an Impact Assessment Expert at the International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

She defended her doctoral dissertation titled ”Demand, Segmentation and Rationing in the Rural Credit Markets of Puri, India”, at the department on 4 April 2001. Faculty opponent was Dr Sonia Bhalotra, Senior Economist at Cambridge University, UK. Read the abstract.

Ranjula Bali Swain has then proceeded to research focused on issues of poverty and vulnerability. In August 2002 she was given a SASNET planning grant for a research project on “Feminization of Debt: Women Empowerment and Social Impact of Microfinance in South Asia.” The project has developed into a major research project titled “Microfinance, Poverty and Vulnerability – Beyond the Myth”, financed by Sida/SAREC from 2002. The empirical research and survey work for this research is being conducted in five different states of India in collaborative support from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development in India and the University of Delhi.

Dr. Swain is now involved in three different research projects related to India:

• Leading Change from Front? The impact of innovative microfinance of the Self Help Group Bank Linkage Program
Abstract: With its nation-wide microfinance initiative of linking banks, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and informal local groups (self-help groups or SHGs), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has become a dominant form of financial access for the rural poor in India. However this innovative program remains largely under-researched. In a unique multi-level survey of the SHG program, I have collected data from five states in India, between August 2003 to January 2004. The complete survey involves a scientific survey of the households (1033 households), a survey of about 250 SHGs, about twenty different Focus Group Discussions, and interviews of microfinance experts, practitioners and government officials. The main objective of this project is to analyze if the SHG is an effective program in alleviating poverty. In addition to the short and medium term effects on poverty, vulnerability and social aspects, this project investigates the programs impact at the macro-level and its long-term potential to impact the regional economic development.

• Can Insurance Markets work for the Poor? A Study of Microinsurance in India
In November 2005 Dr. Bali Swain received SEK 1.2 Million as a three-years (2006-08) research grant from Sida/SAREC for this project. More information on Sida funded South Asia related research projects in 2005.
Abstract: Microinsurance has become the new hope in providing effective protection to low-income people through innovative products like credit-life insurance and health insurance. The prospects are encouraging but much remains unknown. I investigate this largely un-charted territory to test if the insurance markets can work for the poor? Using Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Orissa Milk Federation’s (OMFED) innovative program of health, life and cattle insurance as case studies from India – this project investigates if microinsurance can decrease vulnerability of the poor, especially poor women? The empirical analysis involves the “vulnerability to poverty” approach to test the reduction in vulnerability, by comparing the pre and post-microinsurance data. The empirical framework combines the Monte Carlo and bootstrap statistical techniques for estimation of results.

• Helping or Hurting? – Policies for Combating Child Labour in Hazardous Occupations in India
This is a joint project with Dr. Per Hilding, Department of Economic History, Stockholm University. In November 2005 the project received SEK 2.4 Million as a three-years grant (2006-08) from Sida/SAREC.
Abstract: Several well-meaning policies to eliminate child labour have either been ineffective or counter-productive, making the situation of child labourers even worse than before. In order to ascertain the factors for the effectiveness of policy interventions to combat hazardous forms of child labour, we study India's Brassware industry of Muradabad, Diamond industry in Surat and Match and Fireworks industry in Sivakasi. Specifically, we investigate, which policies or combination of policies will be effective in combating children’s work in hazardous occupations. Within this wider research question our focus is on examining if bans and factory regulations can work as an effective policy given the increasing invisibility of the children’s work. The role of education and other interventions which alter the economic environment of the decision makers, and makes children more willing to stay away from labour and spend more time on other activities and, especially schooling. For instance policies rewarding children to go to school instead of work; policies that improve the functioning of adult labour markets so that with rising incomes parents curtail child work; improving credit and insurance markets, so that in bad times parents are not forced to send their kids to school etc. Issues related to adult-child labour substitutability, wage rates, and problems of the girl child worker are also explored.

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Last updated 2009-03-30