The Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme stands out among rural public works programmes in developing countries for its size, longevity, the generosity of its funding arrangements, and the political sophistication of its design. Its mission is highly ambitious: to supply employment flexibly and rapidly by opening and closing public works in response to local, unpredictable weather variations in a poor agrarian economy. We explore the political factors that account for changes in its performance over more than 30 years, and identify the political lessons for the design of similar programmes elsewhere.
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Journal of Development Studies 42(8):1271-1300