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Decentralization and accountability : are voters more vigilant in local than in national elections ?

  • Khemani, Stuti

Defining vigilance as retrospective voting - where voters evaluate incumbents on their performance during their entire term in office - the author compares voter behavior in local and national elections to make inferences about whether voters are more vigilant in monitoring government at the local level. Using data from 14 major states in India over the period 1960-92, she contrasts voters'behavior in state legislative assembly elections with their behavior in national legislative elections. In state assembly elections voter reward incumbents for local income growth, and punish them for a rise in inequality, over their entire term in office. But in national elections voters behave myopically, rewarding growth in national income and a fall in inflation and inequality only in the year preceding the election. The evidence is consistent with greater voter vigilance and government accountability in local than in national elections.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2557.

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Date of creation: 28 Feb 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2557
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  1. Sen, K. & Vaidya, R.R., 1994. "Political Budget Cycles in India," Papers 104, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research-.
  2. Besley, Timothy J. & Coate, Stephen, 2000. "Centralized versus Decentralized Provision of Local Public Goods: a Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 2495, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Stigler, George J, 1973. "General Economic Conditions and National Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 160-67, May.
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