Yasuyuki Sawada, Masahiro Shoji, Shinya Sugawara, Naoko Shinkai
May 3, 2014
While it is known that access to physical infrastructure enhances household welfare, there are very few micro-econometric studies that analyze its role in mitigating chronic and transient poverty. This paper aims to bridge this gap in the existing literature by evaluating the impact of a large-scale irrigation infrastructure project implemented in Sri Lanka. It identifies the treatment effect of irrigation access by exploiting a situation where the government used lotteries to distribute irrigated plots. Furthermore, in order to disentangle the channels through which the irrigation reduces poverty, we extend the seasonal consumption smoothing model of Paxson (1993; “Consumption and Income Seasonality in Thailand.” Journal of Political Economy 191(1):39–72) by introducing endogenous credit constraints. Using unique household level monthly panel data over a year, it is shown that with irrigation accessibility, not only the average income increases but also the patterns of income fluctuation changes and the probability of binding credit constraint declines through which transient poverty is mitigated. These empirical results suggest that irrigation infrastructure has a positive impact on reducing both chronic and transient poverty directly and indirectly by improving income and relaxing credit constraints.