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The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India

  • Besley, Timothy J.
  • Burgess, Robin

The determinants of government responsiveness to its citizens is a key issue in political economy. Here we develop a model based on the solution of political agency problems. Having a more informed and politically active electorate strengthens incentives for governments to be responsive. This suggests that there is a role both for democratic institutions and the mass media in ensuring that the preferences of citizens are reflected in policy. The ideas behind the model are tested on panel data from India. We show that public food distribution and calamity relief expenditure are greater, controlling for shocks, where governments face greater electoral accountability and where newspaper circulation is highest.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2721.

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Date of creation: Mar 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2721
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  1. Edward Miguel., 2001. "Ethnic Diversity and School Funding in Kenya," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C01-119, University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Stephen Coate & Timothy Besley, 2000. "Elected versus Appointed Regulators: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Inequality and Group Participation: Theory and Evidence from Rural Tanzania," Development Working Papers 138, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  4. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221, February.
  5. Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1997. "Cents and sociability : household income and social capital in rural Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1796, The World Bank.
  6. Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William & Alesina, Alberto, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," Scholarly Articles 4551797, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 1998. "Land Reform, Poverty Reduction and Growth: Evidence from India," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 13, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  8. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-98, August.
  9. Ahluwalia, Deepak, 1993. "Public distribution of food in India : Coverage, targeting and leakages," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 33-54, February.
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