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Can Mandated Political Representation Increase Policy Influence for Disadvantaged Minorities? Theory and Evidence from India


  • Rohini Pande


A basic premise of representative democracy is that all those subject to policy should have a voice in its making. However, policies enacted by electorally accountable governments often fail to reflect the interests of disadvantaged minorities. This paper exploits the institutional features of political reservation, as practiced in Indian states, to examine the role of mandated political representation in providing disadvantaged groups influence over policy-making. I find that political reservation has increased transfers to groups which benefit from the mandate. This finding also suggests that complete policy commitment may be absent in democracies, as is found in this case. (JEL D72, D78, H11, H50)

Suggested Citation

  • Rohini Pande, 2003. "Can Mandated Political Representation Increase Policy Influence for Disadvantaged Minorities? Theory and Evidence from India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1132-1151, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:4:p:1132-1151 Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803769206232

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kalt, Joseph P & Zupan, Mark A, 1984. "Capture and Ideology in the Economic Theory of Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 279-300, June.
    2. David Neumark & Harry Holzer, 2000. "Assessing Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 483-568, September.
    3. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap and the Decline in Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961.
    4. 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.
    5. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages 672-694, November.
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    7. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2001. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a India-Wide Randomized Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    9. Rohini Pande, 1999. "Minority Representation and Policy Choices: The Significance of Legislator Identity," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 16, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    10. Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senate Ideology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 425-441, June.
    11. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinski, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96.
    12. Banerjee, Abhijit & Somanathan, Rohini, 2007. "The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 287-314, March.
    13. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General


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