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Do voters demand responsive governments? Evidence from Indian disaster relief

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Cole, Shawn & Healy, Andrew & Werker, Eric, 2012. "Do voters demand responsive governments? Evidence from Indian disaster relief," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 167-181.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:97:y:2012:i:2:p:167-181
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2011.05.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political economy; Government expenditures; Disaster relief; India; Voting;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H59 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Other
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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