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Development from Representation? A Study of Quotas for the Scheduled Castes in India


  • Francesca Refsum Jensenius


This paper estimates the constituency-level development effects of quotas for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) in India, using a unique dataset of development indicators for more than 3,100 state assembly constituencies in 15 Indian states in 1971 and 2001. Matching constituencies on pretreatment variables from 1971, I find that 30 years of quotas had no detectable constituency-level effect on overall development or redistribution to SCs. Interviews with politicians and civil servants in 2010 and 2011 suggest that these findings can be explained by the power of political parties and the electoral incentives created by the quota system. (JEL D72, J15, O15, O17, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Francesca Refsum Jensenius, 2015. "Development from Representation? A Study of Quotas for the Scheduled Castes in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 196-220, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:7:y:2015:i:3:p:196-220
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20140201

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    Cited by:

    1. Adam Michael Auerbach & Adam Ziegfeld, 2016. "How Do Electoral Quotas Influence Political Competition? Evidence from Municipal, State, and National Elections in India," Working Papers 2016-16, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    2. Cassan, Guilhem, 2019. "Affirmative action, education and gender: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 51-70.
    3. repec:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:1-13 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pavithra Suryanarayan, 2017. "When do the poor vote for the right-wing and why: Status inequality and vote choice in the Indian states," WIDER Working Paper Series 020, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. repec:eee:jeborg:v:151:y:2018:i:c:p:88-122 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:bla:econom:v:85:y:2018:i:338:p:266-280 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Das, Sabyasachi & Mukhopadhyay, Abhiroop & Saroy, Rajas, 2017. "Efficiency Consequences of Affirmative Action in Politics: Evidence from India," IZA Discussion Papers 11093, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Sugata Ghosh & Anirban Mitra, 2019. "Ethnic Identities, Public Spending and Political Regimes," Studies in Economics 1907, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    9. repec:eee:enepol:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:278-287 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Sabyasachi Das & Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay & Rajas Saroy, 2018. "Does Affirmative Action in Politics Hinder Performance? Evidence from India," Working Papers 1007, Ashoka University, Department of Economics.
    11. Ao, Chon-Kit & Chatterjee, Somdeep, 2018. "The Effects of Political Reservations on Credit Access and Borrowing Composition: New Evidence from India," GLO Discussion Paper Series 227, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    12. Girard, Victoire, 2018. "Don’t Touch My Road. Evidence from India on Affirmative Action And Everyday Discrimination," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 1-13.
    13. Mitra, Anirban, 2015. "Mandated Political Representation and Redistribution," MPRA Paper 67004, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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