Essays on Identity and Social Interactions
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This dissertation consists of two studies on identity based social interactions in India. The first study uses a slum relocation program in India that randomly assigned neighbors to examine the effects of exposure to other caste neighbors on trust and attitudes towards members of other castes. Combining administrative data on housing assignment with original survey data on attitudes, I find evidence corroborating the contact hypothesis. Exposure to more neighbors of other castes increases inter caste trust, support for inter caste marriage, and the belief that caste injustice is growing. I explore the role of friendships in facilitating these favorable attitudes. The results throw light on the positive effects of exposure to diverse social groups through close proximity in neighborhoods. The second study examines the effect of a technological intervention in agriculture, the Green Revolution, on Hindu Muslim conflict in India between 1957 and 1985. I exploit variation in take-up of the Green Revolution technologies generated by the suitability of agricultural areas in districts to apply the technologies to identify the causal impact of technology on conflict. I find that riots are longer after the Green Revolution is introduced. I find suggestive evidence of an increase in the occurrence and severity of religious conflict. I explore the role of mechanization in agriculture introduced by the Green Revolution in reducing the opportunity cost of engaging in conflict. My findings shed light on the unintended consequences of technology in agriculture as well as the mechanisms through which such technology may influence ethnic conflict.