Welfare Effects of Criminal Politicians: A Discontinuity-Based Approach
This paper uses unique data on the criminal records of Indian bureaucrats to examine the relationship between politicians’ criminality and consumption, crime, and corruption. The identification relies on a regression discontinuity design by which individuals living in districts where a criminal politician was barely elected are compared with individuals living in districts where a criminal politician barely lost. The results show that criminal politicians decrease consumption by vulnerable sections of society: the monthly per capita expenditure of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, or other backward classes decreases by 19 percent. This paper suggests that the effect of criminal politicians on criminality and corruption may explain this result.
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