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Don't Worry, Be Happy,

Happiness is a subjective measure of the quality of life in all its domains. Lately, the social and economic dimensions of happiness and its measurement have been the subject of some study. There are several factors that affect individual well-being, with income, employment, health, religion, marriage, education and workplace satisfaction being important determinants. Macroeconomic variables such as unemployment, poverty, literacy rate, life expectancy, inflation rate, crime rate and political stability also affect happiness. This article looks at the literature of the economics of happiness and is a survey of the relationship between happiness and several correlates of happiness. It aims to establish that analysing happiness from an economist's perspective can help choose between alternative public policies, and proposes an alternative valuation methodology for non-marketed goods and services.

Financial Inclusion in Hooghly

The Reserve Bank of India has directed all banks to maintain "no-frills accounts" - a bank account at zero balance - for 100% fi nancial inclusion so as to include all households under the ambit of the formal fi nancial sector. This study conducted in 2008 in Hooghly district of West Bengal reveals that the scheme has been largely unsuccessful in the fi nancial inclusion of excluded categories such as the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, Other Backward Classes and those who are less educated. The survey revealed that this scheme is ill-targeted and the benefi ts are reaped by the higher classes of society.

Death in Police Custody

We have watched with disgust and horror the brutal police assault on students during a peaceful demonstration organised by four Left students’ organisations on 2 April 2013 in Kolkata and the subsequent death of Sudipta Gupta, a participant in the demonstration, while in police custody. Sudipta was...

Experimental Economics: A Survey

Over the past few decades, experimental methods have given economists access to new sources of data and enlarged the set of economic propositions that can be validated. This field has grown exponentially in the past few decades, but is still relatively new to the average Indian academic. The objective of this survey is to familiarise the Indian audience with some aspects of experimental economics. The survey attempts to bring to the interested reader a flavour of this field. The survey is presented in five separate articles after this introduction. The notes and references for all articles are at the end of the survey.

Emergence of Experimental Economics

The survey begins, in Part 1, with a presentation of the historical emergence of the subject and provides the methodological justification for economics experiments. In presenting the history of the field, Part I also discusses the forces that impelled or impeded its evolution.

Experiments in Macroeconomics and Finance

Part 3 reviews experiments in finance and economics, with an emphasis on evaluating the learning from such experiments.

Experiments in the Indian Context

Over the past few years, experimental economics has become increasingly visible in research activity in India.The concluding part of this survey offers a brief overview of experiments conducted in the Indian context. These have been largely field experiments.

Experiments on Individual Decision-Making

Part 2 of the survey looks at experimental results dealing with individual choice. The discussion compares the two dominant experimental methodologies that govern individual decision-making experiments in social science. It then discusses decision-making experiments under two main heads - the psychology-oriented experiments (or what has now morphed into behavioural economics) and experiments that test observed behaviour against theoretical benchmarks derived from neoclassical microeconomic theory. The last section provides an overview and looks ahead to the future of experiments in decision-making.

Public Goods Experiments and Social Preferences

Part 4 of the survey offers an overview of public goods experiments, an area where experimentation has been particularly fruitful.

The Logic of Community Participation: Experimental Evidence from West Bengal

Social capital has been defined as a set of informal norms that promotes cooperation among the members of the community. Where there is repeated interaction, the members are able to get better information about the activities and intentions of other members in the community than outsiders, thereby promoting collective action or community participation supported by peer monitoring and social sanctions. In order to verify the logic of community participation, three sessions of a public goods classroom experiment were conducted with students and villagers at Kolkata and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. The results show that even though the group contributions have in all cases been above 50% of the initial endowment, the contributions by the villagers who were members of the same community-based organisation were always higher than those by the students. This may be attributed to the fact that the villagers, being members of the same cbo have a common history of social interaction leading to better group cohesiveness.

Microcredit for Income Generation: The Role of Rosca

Microcredit institutions have played an important part in income generation activities in developing countries. In India, rotating savings and credit associations (Rosca), a special type of microcredit organisation, largely meets the credit needs of the poor. These organisations also improve the loan repayment habits of the poor borrower. This paper investigates important features of Rosca such as group formation procedures, loan sequencing, peer monitoring, loan repayment, rate of default, etc. It also analyses how Rosca achieves sustainability with low social sanction and policy implications are discussed.
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