Privileging one’s own? Voting patterns and politicized spending in India
(with Pradeep Chhibber)
A large literature has demonstrated that politicians manipulate the allocation of public resources with an eye to winning the next election. These findings contrast with other work that shows that politicians often channel funds to their personal networks and supporters even when this is electorally inefficient. In this paper we argue that the choices of politicians are influenced by the type of networks politicians are embedded in. Politicians from parties that are embedded in a strong social network outside of the party (embedded parties) face pressures to allocate resources to members of that network. Politicians from parties without such clear ties to an external network are not similarly constrained and can focus on winning elections (electoralist parties). Using village-level data on the allocation of funds by politicians in India under a scheme called MPLADS (Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme), we show that MPs from embedded parties are more likely to allocate resources to villages where they won a large share of the vote, while politicians from electoralist parties gave more to competitive villages. Exploiting a natural experiment created by the implementation of new electoral boundaries in the 2009 election, we similarly show that politicians from embedded parties kept spending in areas that would not be in their constituency in the next election, while politicians from electoralist parties almost completely stopped spending in those areas. Taken together these findings contribute to our understanding of when and why we observe different forms of manipulation of public resources by politicians.
Party-candidate linkages and Party Institutionalization in Indian State Elections
(with Pavithra Suryanarayan)
This paper focuses on an important and understudied aspect of party institutionalization: the strength and stability of linkages between parties and candidates. Using original data on rerunning patterns of candidates across more than 3,800 constituencies (electoral constituencies) in 26 Indian states between 1974 and 2007, we look at two manifestations of weak party-candidate linkages: candidates not reappearing from one election to next (candidate discontinuity) and candidates rerunning under a different party label (electoral switching). We argue that variation in these variables result from the differences in the internal institutionalization of parties and how strong their ties are to specific social groups. Whereas parties and candidates may have incentives to change alliances opportunistically in respons to short-term factors like a weak economy, we should observe more such behavior in contexts of weaker party systems. We show evidence of this drawing on constituency-level estimates of the organizational capacity of parties and the intensity of social cleavages, and economic shocks (bad rainfall). Our findings suggest that both candidate discontinuity and electoral switching may serve as a useful micro-level measure of party system institutionalization.
Party-candidate linkages and economic voting: Evidence from India
(with Pavithra Suryanarayan)
Elections perform a vital function as an accountability mechanism for performance in office. However, in many developing democracies, the evidence of a relationship between economic performance and vote choice is weak. In this paper, we argue that the strength of party-candidate linkages – the extent to which parties and candidates maintain stable alliances in consecutive elections – mediates the extent of economic voting. Weak linkages may split voters’ loyalties between parties and candidates, and lead to poorer quality information on who is to be held accountable for performance in office. This results in weaker patterns of economic voting. Using constituency-level electoral data from Indian state assembly elections, we code the rerunning patterns of candidates for all elections held between 1987 and 2007. Using these newly developed measures of party-candidate linkages and different measures of the state of the economy – rainfall data, nightlight data, and changes in public employment – we show that voters do reward parties for good economic conditions when parties and candidates are aligned in consecutive elections. Individual-level survey data from the Indian National Election Study from 2004 further corroborate this pattern. The results contribute to the nascent literature demonstrating the importance of the organization of political parties in general, and party-candidate linkages in particular, in shaping voting patterns.
Voting for Development? Ruling Coalitions and Literacy in India
(with Rikhil Bhavnani).
Across the world, governments skew the distribution of state resources for political gain. This affects the distribution of goods that are easy to target and to claim credit for, and that can be changed in the short-run. But to what extent does politicization affect slow-moving development outcomes that are harder to target and claim credit for, particularly in the long run? Using a close-election instrumental variable design and drawing on a new socio-economic dataset of India’s state assembly constituencies in 1971 and 2001, we examine whether areas represented by members of state ruling coalitions experienced greater increases in literacy over 30 years. We find that constituencies that voted for ruling coalition members did not experience greater increases in literacy in the long run. The null effect is precisely estimated.
While village-level quotas in India have brought hundreds of thousands of women to power in local politics, only 4.6% of the Members of Parliament (MPs) and 4.7% of the Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) in India have been women since 1961. Using a complete, new dataset of the more than 500,000 candidates in Indian state assembly and parliamentary elections 1961-2015, including almost 25,000 female candidates, I show that female candidates tend to do as well as male candidates in the elections where they run. Controlling for differences in candidate quality by using a regression discontinuity design (RDD) of close elections between male and female candidates, I also show that parties tend to re-nominate fewer of their female than their male incumbents and runner-ups. The findings indicate that it is party bias and a hostile political environment rather than voters bias that has made the inclusion of women in Indian politics so slow.
Making Violence Important: Legal Change and Social Norms in Mexico
(with Mala Htun)
One of the central achievements of the women’s movement has been the codification, in international law and the domestic legislation of many societies, of the notion that violence against women (VAW) constitutes a violation of human rights. Laws and public policies conceptualize VAW as a public matter (as opposed to a private or familial one) and assume responsibility, on the part of the state, to combat it. In many parts of the world, violence persist because it is normalized and internalized. Victims of violence justify their experiences by saying “this is just part of marriage,” “I deserve this,” or “it is not important.” Legal change, then, is not only about changing behavior, but about changing social norms, including for victims to start believing that they have “the right to have rights.” In this paper, we explore how and to what extent legal and rhetorical changes on VAW in Mexico around the year 2007 have taken hold in social norms and cultural attitudes. Drawing on four waves of the Mexican national survey on the Dynamics of Household Relations (ENDIREH, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2017), we examine variation in both behavior and attitudes toward physical domestic abuse across different groups of women. The data show that a tremendous number of women suffer from violence at the hands of partners across these years, and that few (although a gradually increasing share) are willing to step forward to report of these violations. The main change we observe among women with knowledge of the legal change is in attitudes: over time fewer women refer to the abuse they experience as a family matter or call it “unimportant.”
Do Parties Matter at the Subdistrict Level of Politics? Evidence from mandals in Andhra Pradesh (with Andreas Kotsadam and Anirban Mitra)
Does the overall economic performance at the local level in India at all depend upon the party identity of the party or ideology of the politicians in power? Are there economic gains from being aligned across different levels of government? We examine such questions in the context of mandal (subdistrict) level elections in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, using unique mandal-level election results from 2001 and 2006 and nighttime light data. Our findings consistently show that the effect of party identity on economic outcomes as proxied by nighttime lights is not statistically significant and that we can reject even small effects. This suggests that ideology matters little when it comes to economic outcomes in this context. We also find no evidence of alignment gains in terms of economic activity.
Kinship in Indian Politics: Dynasties, nepotism and imagined families
Kinship, whether by blood or by imagination, plays an important role in Indian politics. It is visible in the frequent use of family terms used to address political allies and leaders, as well as to describe relations between both communities and countries. It is also evident in the high numbers of dynastic leaders in elected office. Family ties can help people succeed professionally or get out of trouble. The prevalence of nepotism has also affected both political discourses and institutional choices. This chapter reflects on the role of kinship in Indian politics and discusses why kinship-structures warrant more attention by those studying the role of India in the world.
Forging Ikumen: On state efforts to redefine masculinity in Japan
(with Mala Htun and Melanie Sayuri Sonntag)
To curb the falling birth rate and increase women’s labor force participation, the Japanese state has adopted numerous policies and programs to promote greater work-life balance. In recent years, the emphasis has shifted from changing women’s roles to changing men’s roles, identities, and work habits. Among other things, the state has promoted the ideal of the ikumen — the active father. Despite these efforts, working hours remain long, few men take parental leave, and there is still a starkly traditional sexual division of labor. In this paper, we draw on survey data and interviews in Japan to analyze the state’s approach to changing male identities and making fatherhood attractive. We show that, parallel to changes in governmental rhetoric, there are some changes in social attitudes, but little change in social practices. Our interview evidence suggests that the barriers to more pervasive behavioral changes lie less (or not exclusively) in the conservative cultural values emphasized by some scholarly literature but largely in a constellation of economic, social, and legal institutions that go against the governmental rhetoric. These findings suggest that the persistence of state-sponsored incentives to behave in ways that reaffirm traditional working styles and gender roles may thwart the achievement of official goals, and point to the need for a more holistic state approach to social change.