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

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  • Kaivan Munshi

    ()
    (Brown University)

  • Mark Rosenzweig

    ()
    (Yale University)

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 Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 964.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:964

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Keywords: politics; commitment; governance;

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References

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  1. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  2. 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.
  3. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2012. "Just Rewards? Local Politics and Public Resource Allocation in South India," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 26(2), pages 191-216.
  4. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2006. "Traditional Institutions Meet the Modern World: Caste, Gender, and Schooling Choice in a Globalizing Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1225-1252, September.
  5. Francesco Caselli & Massimo Morelli, 2000. "Bad politicians," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 134, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  7. Lori A. Beaman & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Rohini Pande & Petia Topalova, 2008. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," NBER Working Papers 14198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Lupin Rahman & Vijayendra Rao, 2004. "The Politics of Public Good Provision: Evidence from Indian Local Governments," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 416-426, 04/05.
  9. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2009. "Why is Mobility in India so Low? Social Insurance, Inequality, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 14850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Matthias Messner & Mattias Polborn, 2003. "Paying Politicians," Working Papers 246, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  18. Abhijit Banerjee & Kaivan Munshi, 2004. "How Efficiently is Capital Allocated? Evidence from the Knitted Garment Industry in Tirupur," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 19-42.
  19. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, 09.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Baird, Sarah & McIntosh, Craig & Ozler, Berk, 2011. "The regressive demands of demand-driven development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5883, The World Bank.
  2. 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).
  3. Beaman, Lori & Chattopadhyay, Raghebendra & Duflo, Esther & Pande, Rohini & Topalova, Petia, 2008. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," Working Paper Series rwp08-037, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. 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.
  5. Palaniswamy, Nethra, 2010. "Sarpanch raj: is the President all powerful?," IFPRI discussion papers 972, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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