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Is deliberation equitable ? evidence from transcripts of village meetings in south India

  • Ban, Radu
  • Rao, Vijayendra

Deliberative decision-making processes are becoming increasingly important around the world to make important decisions about public and private goods allocation, but there is very little empirical evidence about how they actually work. In this paper the authors use data from India extracted from 131 transcripts of village meetings matched with data from household surveys conducted in the same villages prior to the meetings, to study whose preferences are reflected in the meetings. The meetings are constitutionally empowered to make decisions about public and private goods. The findings show that the more land a person owns, the higher the likelihood her preference is mentioned in the meeting, the longer the amount of time spent discussing this preference, and the higher the likelihood that a decision to provide or repair this public or private good is taken. At the same time, the voices of disadvantaged castes, while not dominating the meeting, are also heard. By contrast, the preferences of Muslims are given less time. High village literacy and the presence of higher level officials during village meetings mitigate the power of the landed, but political reservations for low castes for the post of village president increase the power of the landed.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4928.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4928
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  1. Besley, Timothy J. & Pande, Rohini & Rao, Vijayendra, 2005. "Political Selection and the Quality of Government: Evidence from South India," CEPR Discussion Papers 5201, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Rao, Vijayendra & Ibanez, Ana Maria, 2003. "The social impact of social funds in Jamaica - a mixed-methods analysis of participation, targeting, and collective action in community-driven development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2970, The World Bank.
  3. Esther Duflo & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, 2004. "Women as policy makers: Evidence from a randomized policy experiment in india," Framed Field Experiments 00224, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Radu Ban & Vijayendra Rao, 2008. "Tokenism or Agency? The Impact of Women’s Reservations on Village Democracies in South India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 501-530.
  5. Dilip Mookherjee & Pranab K. Bardhan, 2000. "Capture and Governance at Local and National Levels," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 135-139, May.
  6. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2005. "Participatory Democracy in Action: Survey Evidence from South India," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 648-657, 04/05.
  7. Mansuri, Ghazala & Rao, Vijayendra, 2004. "Community-based (and driven) development : A critical review," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3209, The World Bank.
  8. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Lupin Rahman & Vijayendra Rao, 2004. "The Politics of Public Good Provision: Evidence from Indian Local Governments," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 416-426, 04/05.
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