Got Water? Social Divisions and Access to Public Goods in Rural India



Data from the 2001 Census of India is used to examine how social divisions are associated with access to tap water across rural India. Different types of social fragmentation are associated with different outcomes for tap water access. Communities that are heterogeneous in terms of caste have lower access to tap water, while communities that are fragmented across religions have higher access. This underscores the importance of heterogeneity both within and across religions. Aggregated measures of social fragmentation may thus conceal the differential effects of its component measures, and obscure important information that may affect the design of public policies.