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Religious Identity and the Provision of Public Goods: Evidence from the Indian Princely States

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  • Latika Chaudhary

    ()
    (Scripps College and Hoover Institute)

  • Jared Rubin

    ()
    (Chapman University)

Abstract

Religious identity affects preferences and can consequently affect policy. We propose two mechanisms through which a ruler's religious identity can affect public good provision: i) greater provision of goods in regions where more subjects are the ruler's co-religionists, and ii) lower provision of goods where private markets provide a substitute to the ruler's co-religionists. Empirically, identifying the causal effect of religious identity on policy is often impossible, since the religious identity of rulers rarely changes over time and place. We address this problem by exploiting the variation in the religion of rulers in the Indian Princely States in the early 20th century. The Indian Princely States had significant variation in the religion of the ruler (primarily Hindu and Muslim), often due to unique historical experiences. Using data from the 1911 census, we fin d that Muslim-ruled states had lower Hindu literacy but the religion of the ruler had no statistically significant impact on Muslim literacy, railroad ownership or post office provision. These results support the idea that rulers provide less public goods when religious institutions provide a substitute targeted at their co-religionists, but there is only weak evidence that rulers provide more public goods when more subjects share their religious identity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-26.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:13-26

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Keywords: identity; public goods; religion; Islam; Hinduism; literacy; India; Princely States;

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  1. Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli & Jared Rubin, 2012. "Political Legitimacy and Technology Adoption," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 168(3), pages 339-361, September.
  2. Chaudhary, Latika & Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Reading, writing, and religion: Institutions and human capital formation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, March.
  3. Jared Rubin, 2011. "Institutions, the Rise of Commerce and the Persistence of Laws: Interest Restrictions in Islam and Christianity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1310-1339, December.
  4. Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "Direct versus Indirect Colonial Rule in India: Long-Term Consequences," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 693-713, November.
  5. Irma Clots-Figueras, 2007. "Are female leaders good for education? : Evidence from India," Economics Working Papers we077342, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  6. Rohini Pande, 2002. "Can mandated political representation increase policy influence for disadvantaged minorities? Theory and evidence from India," Discussion Papers 0102-62, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  7. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as policy makers: Evidence from a randomized policy experiment in india," Framed Field Experiments 00224, The Field Experiments Website.
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