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Impact of Political Reservations in West Bengal Local Governments on Anti-Poverty Targeting

  • Bardhan Pranab K.

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Mookherjee Dilip

    (Boston University)

  • Parra Torrado Monica

    (Fedesarrollo, Bogota, Colombia)

Political reservation for disadvantaged groups is believed to be a way of improving targeting of publicly provided goods to those groups. This paper examines the impact of political reservations for women and scheduled castes and tribe (SC/ST) candidates in local governments in West Bengal, India between 1998-2004 on targeting to landless, low caste and female-headed households. It differs from existing literature by differences in geographic coverage, time span, and use of self-reported household benefits across a broad range of programs. Reservation of chief executive (pradhan) positions in local government for women was associated with a significant worsening of within-village targeting to SC/ST households, and no improvement on any other dimension of targeting. Reservation of pradhan posts for SC/ST members was associated with a significant increase in benefits received by the village as a whole, improvement in intra-village targeting to female-headed households, and to the group (SC or ST) of the pradhan. The effects of women's reservations are not consistent with simple citizen-candidate or elite capture models of electoral politics. They are consistent with a more complex hypothesis of capture-cum-clientelism which is weakened by election of politically inexperienced women to reserved pradhan posts.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal of Globalization and Development.

Volume (Year): 1 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-38

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:globdv:v:1:y:2010:i:1:n:5
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