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Determinants of Redistributive Politics: An Empirical Analysis of Land Reforms in West Bengal, India

Author

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  • Pranab Bardhan
  • Dilip Mookherjee

Abstract

We investigate political determinants of land reform implementation in the Indian state of West Bengal. Using a village panel spanning 1974-1998, we do not find evidence supporting the hypothesis that land reforms were positively and monotonically related to control of local governments by a Left Front coalition vis-à-vis the right-centrist Congress party, combined with lack of commitment to policy platforms. Instead, the evidence is consistent with a quasi-Downsian theory stressing the role of opportunism (reelection concerns) and electoral competition. (JEL D72, O13, O17, Q15)

Suggested Citation

  • Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2010. "Determinants of Redistributive Politics: An Empirical Analysis of Land Reforms in West Bengal, India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1572-1600, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:4:p:1572-1600
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1572
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "Land Reform, Poverty Reduction, and Growth: Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 389-430.
    2. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    3. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    4. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1993. "A model of political equilibrium in a representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-209, June.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:01:p:33-47_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Bardhan, Pranab K, 1973. "Size, Productivity, and Returns to Scale: An Analysis of Farm-Level Data in Indian Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(6), pages 1370-1386, Nov.-Dec..
    7. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:67:y:1973:i:02:p:490-498_14 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Paul J. Gertler & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2002. "Empowerment and Efficiency: Tenancy Reform in West Bengal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 239-280, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sonia Bhalotra & Abhishek Chakravarty & Dilip Mookherjee & Francisco J. Pino, "undated". "Property Rights and Gender Bias: Evidence from Land Reform in West Bengal," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-281, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    2. P. G. Babu, 2016. "Mass Flourishing and Corporatism: Two Indian Stories," Homo Oeconomicus: Journal of Behavioral and Institutional Economics, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 43-49, August.
    3. Deininger, Klaus & Jin, Songqing & Yadav, Vandana, 2012. "Does sharecropping affect productivity and long-term investment ? evidence from West Bengal's tenancy reforms," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6293, The World Bank.
    4. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:82-103 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Besley, Timothy & Leight, Jessica & Pande, Rohini & Rao, Vijayendra, 2016. "Long-run impacts of land regulation: Evidence from tenancy reform in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 72-87.
    6. Bardhan, Pranab & Mookherjee, Dilip & Kumar, Neha, 2012. "State-led or market-led green revolution? Role of private irrigation investment vis-a-vis local government programs in West Bengal's farm productivity growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 222-235.
    7. Castañeda Dower, Paul & Pfutze, Tobias, 2015. "Vote suppression and insecure property rights," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 1-19.
    8. Michael Luca & Deepak Malhotra & Christopher Poliquin, 2016. "The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-126, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2016.
    9. Gupta, Bhanu & Mukhopadhyay, Abhiroop, 2016. "Local funds and political competition: Evidence from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in India," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 14-30.
    10. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2011. "Subsidized Farm Input Programs and Agricultural Performance: A Farm-Level Analysis of West Bengal's Green Revolution, 1982-1995," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 186-214, October.
    11. Camila Uribe Mejía, 2014. "Bancarización y Empoderamiento Femenino," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 011001, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    12. Bardhan, Pranab & Luca, Michael & Mookherjee, Dilip & Pino, Francisco, 2014. "Evolution of land distribution in West Bengal 1967–2004: Role of land reform and demographic changes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 171-190.
    13. Laura Montenegro Helfer, 2017. "Forming State through Land Reform Policy: The Dynamics of Baldío Allocation in Peripheral Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015433, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    14. Pranab Bardhan, 2015. "State and Economic Development: The Need for a Reappraisal of the Current Literature," Working Papers id:7060, eSocialSciences.
    15. Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, 2012. "The political economy of implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in India," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series esid-015-12, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    16. Macours, Karen, 2014. "Ethnic divisions, contract choice, and search costs in the Guatemalan land rental market," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-18.
    17. Mitra, Anirban, 2015. "Mandated Political Representation and Redistribution," MPRA Paper 67004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Bernecker, Andreas & Boyer, Pierre C. & Gathmann, Christina, 2015. "Trial and Error? Reelection Concerns and Policy Experimentation during the U.S. Welfare Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 9113, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Pranab Bardhan, 2016. "State and Development: The Need for a Reappraisal of the Current Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(3), pages 862-892, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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