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Do voters demand responsive governments? Evidence from Indian disaster relief

  • Cole, Shawn
  • Healy, Andrew
  • Werker, Eric

Using rainfall, public relief, and election data from India, we examine how governments respond to adverse shocks and how voters react to these responses. The data show that voters punish the incumbent party for weather events beyond its control. However, fewer voters punish the ruling party when its government responds vigorously to the crisis, indicating that voters reward the government for responding to disasters. We also find evidence suggesting that voters only respond to rainfall and government relief efforts during the year immediately preceding the election. In accordance with these electoral incentives, governments appear to be more generous with disaster relief in election years. These results describe how failures in electoral accountability can lead to suboptimal policy outcomes.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 97 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 167-181

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:97:y:2012:i:2:p:167-181
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  1. Shawn Cole, 2009. "Fixing Market Failures or Fixing Elections? Agricultural Credit in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 219-50, January.
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  11. Andrew Leigh, 2004. "Does the World Economy Swing National Elections?," CEPR Discussion Papers 485, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  12. Healy, Andrew & Malhotra, Neil, 2010. "Random Events, Economic Losses, and Retrospective Voting: Implications for Democratic Competence," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 5(2), pages 193-208, August.
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