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The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India

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  • Banerjee, Abhijit
  • Somanathan, Rohini

Abstract

This paper examines how public goods get allocated by a centralized state. We use data on social structure and public goods in rural India over the sixties, seventies and eighties to examine the influence of particular social groups, and of social and economic heterogeneity more generally, on the availability of public goods. This was a period of rapid expansion in these goods and of important shifts in the political leverage enjoyed by different groups. We find that social divisions are important, but so are the relative positions of particular goups in the broader social hierarchy. These divisions are not however immutable, nor is their influence overwhelming. Some previously marginalized communities have gained over this period while others continue to be disadvantaged. There has also been considerable convergence in the availability of public goods over this period, suggesting that the state feels some compulsion to equalize access, even to those who are not politically influential.
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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:82:y:2007:i:2:p:287-314
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    1. 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.
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    6. Dayton-Johnson, Jeff, 2000. "Determinants of collective action on the local commons: a model with evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 181-208.
    7. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1998. "Wealth Inequality and Efficiency in the Commons, Part II: The Regulated Case," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(1), pages 1-22, January.
    8. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
    9. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    10. Edward Miguel, 2001. "Ethnic Diversity and School Funding in Kenya," HEW 0012001, EconWPA.
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