Anshuman Tiwari

Anshuman Tiwari

Postdoctoral Fellow

UC Santa Barbara and Environmental Defense Fund

I am an economist studying environmental issues primarily in low and middle income countries. I am currently on an off-market postdoctoral fellowship based at the Environmental Markets Lab at UC Santa Barbara, joint with the Environmental Defense Fund. I completed my PhD from the LSE in 2022, where I was affiliated with the Grantham Research Institute and the STICERD EEE program. Thank you for visiting my website!


  • Environmental
  • Urban
  • Development


  • PhD in Environmental Economics, 2022

    London School of Economics

  • Master of Public Policy, 2015

    UC Berkeley

  • B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering, 2008

    Indian Institute of Technology (ISM), Dhanbad

Short bio

My research studies how economic growth shapes and is shaped by environmental and climate change, and how people and firms adapt to this change. I utilise administrative and satellite-based datasets, and primary surveys in combination with reduced-form and structural methods from applied micro in my work. I am particularly interested in policy-relevant questions such as the consequences of air and water pollution for economic growth, and how anti-poverty programs affect farmers’s adaptation decisions to climate change.

Before pursuing a research career, I worked as a policy adviser to the state government of Delhi, conducted research at the World Bank, and was also a software engineer in India. I am grateful for the opportunities to study at the LSE, UC Berkeley and IIT-Dhanbad in India. Needless to say, I have been shaped by these experiences, as also by working at J-PAL, growing up in small-town India, and living in many parts of India, the US and the UK.

Working Papers

The Air Pollution-linked Productivity Impacts of a Groundwater Conservation Policy in India

Alarming rates of groundwater aquifer depletion in North India are linked to water-intensive rice cultivation based on cheap electricity for water pumps. In this second-best setting where optimal marginal pricing of groundwater is not possible, the northwestern states of Punjab and Haryana with the highest groundwater depletion rates instead instituted laws in 2009 intended to foster reliance on rain-fed irrigation by mandating a delay in rice crop transplantation to coincide with monsoon arrival. At the same time, rice crop residue burning in these two states contributes to high particulate matter levels over North India. In this paper, I use satellite data on monthly fires and a difference-in-differences framework to document that the groundwater laws shifted more than half of all agricultural fires into early winter, when meteorological conditions favor longer suspension of particulate matter over North India. I then quantify the consequences of this increased air pollution on Indian GDP by estimating two further elasticities. First, I develop a novel instrument for PM2.5 that summarizes the exposure of a given location to all upwind fires, showing that 10% higher district exposure to November fires increases annual PM2.5 by 0.3%, and that 4% of within-district annual variation in PM2.5 can be explained by exposure to November fires. Second, I estimate the effect of higher PM2.5 levels on GDP with data on Indian districts between 2007-2013 using district and year fixed effects combined with a first differences approach that is more efficient for non-stationary data, and with the fire exposure instrument to tackle residual reverse causality. With this approach, I find estimates that a 10% increase in PM2.5 reduces GDP by 1.8%, with a 95% interval of [-0.4%, -3.17%]. With these two elasticities and the structure of the instrument, I estimate that the groundwater laws decrease yearly Indian GDP by 0.125% due to the increase in November fire-driven air pollution.

Do Workfare programs affect Agricultural Risk through Crop Choice? Evidence from India

Workfare programs such as India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) are an attractive way to better target consumption smoothing in the face of increasingly extreme weather events driven by climate change. Using the rollout of NREGS across districts in India with quasi-exogenous variation in yearly weather, I document increased volatility of crop yields after implementation of NREGS, with additional yield losses of 8% during a bad rainfall year post-NREGS. In order to test whether these results can be explained by the choice of higher-yielding but more volatile crops but due to the insurance properties of NREGS, I construct novel agricultural risk indices using pre-NREGS moments of district crop revenue distribution. Higher risk as measured by these indices is associated with higher crop yields in good rainfall years, but lower yields after negative rainfall shocks, therefore capturing meaningful features of aggregate risk in crop choice. Using the rollout strategy, I find little evidence that the increased sensitivity can be explained by these measures of risk in crop choice. On the other hand, I find that NREGS strongly dampens pro-cyclical wage response to low rainfall shocks, potentially exacerbating the yield effects of productivity shocks by increasing labor costs. Finally, higher provision of NREGS after a negative rainfall shock worsens yield losses if a negative rainfall shock is also realized next year, but improves yields if a positive shock is realized instead. Policymakers considering such programs should pay close attention to the negative and positive complementarities between social protection and agricultural productivity that these results suggest.

Selected work in progress

Highways and the Spatial Distribution of Industrial Water Pollution

Air Pollution and Labor Supply in India (with Shefali Khanna)


EC230: Economics in Public Policy

Michaelmas 2021 (LSE)

EC240: Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development

Summer 2021 (LSE)

GY209: The Economic Geography of Trade, Production and Development

Michaelmas 2021 (LSE)

ST20: Introduction to Probability and Statistics

Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015 (UC Berkeley)