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Growing Cleavages in India? Evidence from the Changing Structure of Party Electorates, 1962-2014

Author

Listed:
  • Abhijit Banerjee

    (MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  • Amory Gethin

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, WIL - World Inequality Lab)

  • Thomas Piketty

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, WIL - World Inequality Lab)

Abstract

This paper combines surveys, election results and social spending data to document the long-run evolution of political cleavages in India. From a dominantparty system featuring the Indian National Congress as the main actor of the mediation of political conflicts, Indian politics have gradually come to include a number of smaller regionalist parties and, more recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). These changes coincide with the rise of religious divisions and the persistence of strong caste-based cleavages, while education, income and occupation play little role (controlling for caste) in determining voters' choices. We find no evidence that India's new party system has been associated with changes in social policy. While BJP-led states are generally characterized by a smaller social sector, switching to a party representing upper castes or upper classes has no significant effect on social spending. We interpret this as evidence that voters seem to be less driven by straightforward economic interests than by sectarian interests and cultural priorities. In India, as in many Western democracies, political conflicts have become increasingly focused on identity and religious-ethnic conflicts rather than on tangible material benefits and class-based redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Amory Gethin & Thomas Piketty, 2019. "Growing Cleavages in India? Evidence from the Changing Structure of Party Electorates, 1962-2014," PSE Working Papers hal-02877001, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:hal-02877001
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://pjse.hal.science/hal-02877001
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas Piketty, 2018. "Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict," Working Papers hal-02878211, HAL.
    2. Lucas Chancel & Thomas Piketty, 2019. "Indian Income Inequality, 1922‐2015: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 65(S1), pages 33-62, November.
    3. Dunning, Thad & Nilekani, Janhavi, 2013. "Ethnic Quotas and Political Mobilization: Caste, Parties, and Distribution in Indian Village Councils," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-56, February.
    4. Piketty, Thomas & Chancel, Lucas, 2017. "Indian income inequality, 1922-2014: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj ?," CEPR Discussion Papers 12409, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clara Martinez-Toledano & Alice Sodano, 2021. "Changing Party Systems, Socio-Economic Cleavages, and Nationalism in Northern Europe, 1956-2017," Working Papers halshs-03135013, HAL.
    2. Amory Gethin, 2020. "Extreme Inequality and the Structure of Political Cleavages in South Africa, 1994-2019," Working Papers halshs-03022282, HAL.
    3. Amory Gethin, & Sultan Mehmood & Thomas Piketty, 2020. "Social Inequality and the Dynamics of Political and Ethnolinguistic Divides in Pakistan, 1970-2018," Working Papers halshs-03022253, HAL.
    4. Jules Baleyte & Amory Gethin & Yajna Govind & Thomas Piketty, 2020. "Social Inequalities and the Politicization of Ethnic Cleavages in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, 1999-2019," Working Papers halshs-03022210, HAL.
    5. Amory Gethin & Marc Morgan, 2021. "Democracy and the Politicization of Inequality in Brazil, 1989-2018," Working Papers halshs-03165718, HAL.
    6. Clara Martinez-Toledano & Alice Sodano, 2021. "Changing Party Systems, Socio-Economic Cleavages, and Nationalism in Northern Europe, 1956-2017," World Inequality Lab Working Papers halshs-03135013, HAL.

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    Keywords

    India; Political cleavages; Economic cleavage; Social spending;
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