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Which Wheel Gets the Grease? Constituent Agency and Sub-national World Bank Aid Allocation

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  • Samuel Brazys

    (School of Politics & International Relations, University College Dublin)

  • Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati

    (School of Politics & International Relations, University College Dublin)

  • Tianyang Song

    (School of Politics & International Relations, University College Dublin)

Abstract

Questions of aid allocation have long focused on discerning the altruistic, self-interested or meritocratic motivation of development donors. Less attention has been paid to the interests and agency of recipient state governments and even less to the interests and agency of constituencies within those states. An implicit assumption is often that the “poor” either passively receive the patronage of their benefactors or they don’t. In this paper, we instead suggest that depending on the altruism/egoism of a donor, their sensitivity to needy subnational constituencies in aid allocation also depends on the political empowerment of those groups. In particular, we take advantage of the unique socio-cultural structure in India to examine if the political agency of scheduled castes and tribes (SC/STs) can explain patterns of district-level allocation of World Bank education aid. Using district-level data on a multi-year World Bank education program, district-level proportions of SC/STs and SC/ST population and of members of parliament, we find that SC/ST districts receive more aid, even when controlling for baseline poverty and educational performance. These results are especially strong when these districts are politically empowered. Our findings suggest that while donors may indeed respond to recipient needs, those recipients who also speak loudly for themselves fare better, highlighting the importance of constituent agency.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Brazys & Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati & Tianyang Song, 2019. "Which Wheel Gets the Grease? Constituent Agency and Sub-national World Bank Aid Allocation," Working Papers 201907, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201907
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