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The Efficacy of Parochial Politics: Caste, Commitment, and Competence in Indian Local Government

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  • Munshi, Kaivan

    (Brown U)

  • Rosenzweig, Mark

    (Yale U)

Abstract

Parochial politics is typically associated with poor leadership and low levels of public good provision. This paper explores the possibility that community involvement in politics need not necessarily worsen governance and, indeed, can be efficiency-enhancing when the context is appropriate. Complementing the new literature on the role of community networks in solving market problems, we test the hypothesis that strong traditional social institutions can discipline the leaders they put forward, successfully substituting for secular political institutions when they are ineffective. Using new data on Indian local governments at the ward level over multiple terms, and exploiting the randomized election reservation system, we find that the presence of a numerically dominant sub-caste (caste equilibrium) is associated with the selection of leaders with superior observed characteristics and with greater public good provision. This improvement in leadership competence occurs without apparently diminishing leaders' responsiveness to their constituency.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 53.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:53

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  1. Matthias Messner & Mattias Polborn, 2003. "Paying Politicians," Working Papers 246, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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Cited by:
  1. Ferraz, Claudio & Finan, Frederico S., 2008. "Motivating Politicians: The Impacts of Monetary Incentives on Quality and Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 3411, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2013. "Networks, Commitment, and Competence: Caste in Indian Local Politics," NBER Working Papers 19197, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Raghbendra Jha & Hari K. Nagarajan & Kailash C. Pradhan, 2011. "Aligning With One's Own: Private Voting and Public Outcomes in Elections in Rural India," ASARC Working Papers 2011-09, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.
  4. Lori Beaman & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Rohini Pande & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1497-1540, November.
  5. Baird, Sarah & McIntosh, Craig & Özler, Berk, 2013. "The regressive demands of demand-driven development," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 27-41.
  6. Palaniswamy, Nethra, 2010. "Sarpanch raj: is the President all powerful?," IFPRI discussion papers 972, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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