The disadvantaged incumbents: estimating incumbency effects in Indian state legislatures
This paper estimates the effect of a candidate’s incumbency status on his or her chances of winning using a large dataset on state legislative elections in India during 1975-2003. I use an innovative research design, called Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD), that provides unbiased estimate of the effect due to incumbency by comparing the candidates in closely fought elections, and find that incumbency has a significant negative effect on the fortunes of incumbent candidates in India and the incumbency effect has decreased further in the last decade. Also, the variation in the incumbency effects across Indian states depends on the differences in levels of public good provision such as the health facilities, rates of employment and poverty, and state per capita income.
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