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Election cycles and electricity provision: Evidence from a quasi-experiment with Indian special elections

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  • Baskaran, Thushyanthan
  • Min, Brian
  • Uppal, Yogesh

Abstract

We present evidence from India showing that state governments induce electoral cycles in electricity service provision. Our data and research strategy allow us to build on models of political business cycles and targeted distribution in two important ways. First, we demonstrate that by manipulating the flow of critical inputs into economic activity like electricity, elected leaders can influence economic outcomes even in contexts where they have constrained fiscal capacity. Second, we identify the effect of elections on electricity provision by focusing on special elections held for exogenous reasons. Our results show that state governments induce substantive increases in electricity service to constituencies that hold special elections. Manipulation of the power supply is stronger in contested constituencies and during special elections held in states where the government commands only a small majority. Overall, we find no evidence of positive welfare effects from the electoral manipulation of electricity supply.

Suggested Citation

  • Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Min, Brian & Uppal, Yogesh, 2015. "Election cycles and electricity provision: Evidence from a quasi-experiment with Indian special elections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 64-73.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:126:y:2015:i:c:p:64-73
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.03.011
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    2. Antonio Estache & Maleke Fourati, 2017. "Infrastructure Provision, Politics and Religion: Insights from Tunisia's New Democracy," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2017-24, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Chaturvedi, Sugat & Das, Sabyasachi, 2018. "Group Size and Political Representation Under Alternate Electoral Systems," MPRA Paper 88117, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Sugat Chaturvedi & Sabyasachi Das, 2018. "Group Size and Political Representation Under Alternate Electoral Systems," Working Papers 1008, Ashoka University, Department of Economics.
    5. Kitchens, Carl T. & Jaworski, Taylor, 2017. "Ownership and the price of residential electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935–1940," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 53-61.
    6. Chanda, Areendam & Kabiraj, Sujana, 2017. "Shedding Light on Regional Growth and Convergence in India," MPRA Paper 92506, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Dec 2018.
    7. Subham Kailthya & Uma Kambhampati, 2016. "Political Economy of Healthcare Provision: Evidence from India," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2016-05, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    8. Nishith Prakash & Marc Rockmore & Yogesh Uppal, 2014. "Do Criminally Accused Politicians Affect Economic Outcomes? Evidence from India," HiCN Working Papers 192, Households in Conflict Network.
    9. Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Brender, Adi & Blesse, Sebastian & Reingewertz, Yaniv, 2016. "Revenue decentralization, central oversight and the political budget cycle: Evidence from Israel," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 1-16.
    10. Baskaran Thushyanthan & Bhalotra Sonia & Min Brian & Uppal Yogesh, 2018. "Women legislators and economic performance," WIDER Working Paper Series 47, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. Samuel Bazzi & Matthew Gudgeon, 2017. "The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-005, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    12. Boräng, Frida & Jagers, Sverker C. & Povitkina, Marina, 2016. "Political determinants of electricity provision in small island developing states," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 725-734.
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    15. Chao-yo Cheng & Johannes Urpelainen, 2016. "Unawareness and indifference to economic reform among the public: evidence from India’s power sector reform," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 211-239, August.
    16. Gregor Pfeifer & Fabian Wahl & Martyna Marczak, 2018. "Illuminating the World Cup effect: Night lights evidence from South Africa," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(5), pages 887-920, November.
    17. Nishith Prakash & Marc Rockmore, 2014. "Do Criminal Representatives Hinder or Improve Constituency Outcomes? Evidence from India," Working papers 2014-20, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    18. Chaurey, Ritam & Le, Duong Trung, 2018. "Infrastructure Grants and the Performance of Microenterprises," IZA Discussion Papers 11749, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. repec:eee:socmed:v:216:y:2018:i:c:p:97-106 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. repec:eee:jeeman:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:345-365 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Comello, Stephen D. & Reichelstein, Stefan J. & Sahoo, Anshuman & Schmidt, Tobias S., 2017. "Enabling Mini-Grid Development in Rural India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 94-107.
    22. repec:eee:enepol:v:108:y:2017:i:c:p:657-672 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Verena Kroth & Valentino Larcinese & Joachim Wehner, 2016. "A Better Life for All? Democratization and Electrification in Post-Apartheid South Africa," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 60, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electoral cycles; Electricity supply; Night lights; India;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H44 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Goods: Mixed Markets
    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects

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