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Applying for social programs in India: Roles of local politics and caste networks in affirmative action

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  • Gille, Véronique

Abstract

India has among the most extensive affirmative action programs in the world. Depending on the State, up to 50% of jobs in the public sector are reserved for members of low castes. However, recruitment is highly discretionary, making it hard for low castes without connections to access reserved jobs and thereby benefit from affirmative action. This paper studies how having a local elected leader from the same caste affects the probability of applying for reserved jobs. The identification strategy focuses on the political reservation system at the village level that determines the caste group of the local elected leader. Taking data from three States in South India, I find that households are more likely to apply when the local elected leader is from their caste group. The evidence suggests that the impact is driven by updated beliefs regarding the probability of a successful application.

Suggested Citation

  • Gille, Véronique, 2018. "Applying for social programs in India: Roles of local politics and caste networks in affirmative action," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 436-456.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:2:p:436-456
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2017.12.001
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    Keywords

    India; Affirmative action; Caste; Political reservations;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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