Politics and public goods in developing countries: Evidence from the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper employs an instrumental variables strategy to identify the effect of party ideology on policy outcomes. Exogenous variation in party representation is generated by the assassination of the leader of the Congress party, which occurred midway through India's national elections in 1991, and dramatically increased the probability of Congress victory for a subset of constituencies. Representation by the Congress party leads to a substantial increase in the provision of public goods favored by the poor, consistent with the party's expressed populist agenda. Among the salient changes are increases in the availability of drinking water and primary education, and declines in agricultural and industrial electrification and telephone coverage. I compare these effects to those obtained using a regression discontinuity design, and find that the latter yields little effect of Congress representation on public goods allocations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Volume163
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

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Developing countries
Regression discontinuity design
India
Agenda
Drinking water
Ideology
Elections
Instrumental variables
Telephone
Primary education

Keywords

  • India
  • Political economy
  • Public goods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

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abstract = "This paper employs an instrumental variables strategy to identify the effect of party ideology on policy outcomes. Exogenous variation in party representation is generated by the assassination of the leader of the Congress party, which occurred midway through India's national elections in 1991, and dramatically increased the probability of Congress victory for a subset of constituencies. Representation by the Congress party leads to a substantial increase in the provision of public goods favored by the poor, consistent with the party's expressed populist agenda. Among the salient changes are increases in the availability of drinking water and primary education, and declines in agricultural and industrial electrification and telephone coverage. I compare these effects to those obtained using a regression discontinuity design, and find that the latter yields little effect of Congress representation on public goods allocations.",
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