Work in progress

Privileging one’s own? Voting patterns and politicized spending in India
(with Pradeep Chhibber)

When and how do politicians manipulate the allocation of public resources? We argue that politicians’ choices are influenced by the type of networks that bring them to power. Politicians from parties closely linked to strong social networks (embedded parties) face pressures to allocate resources to members of that network even when this is electorally inefficient. Politicians from parties without such ties (non-embedded parties) are less constrained. We provide evidence for this using an original polling station (precinct) level dataset, linking voting patterns in the 2009 Indian general election to the characteristics of some 234,000 census villages and to project allocations 2009–14 under India’s discretionary constituency development scheme (MPLADS). The mechanisms underpinning the observed patterns are explored through a natural experiment created by the implementation of new electoral boundaries in 2008. The findings contribute to our understanding of when and why we observe different forms of manipulation of public resources by politicians.

Effects of Sexual Misconduct Training on University Campuses (with Carlos Contreras, Melanie Sayuri Dominguez, Mala Htun, Justine Tinkler)

What are the effects of sexual misconduct training on college campuses? As the #metoo movement grows, public and private organizations around the world are exploring training and other policy mechanisms to combat sexual assault and harassment. This paper examines the effects of mandatory, in-person training on sexual misconduct for students at a diverse university in the Southwest of the US. Drawing on three studies— two with a quasi-experimental and one with an experimental design—and interviews with students and staff, we explore the effects of the training on attitudes towards rape myths, gender stereotypes, and expressed willingness to report of episodes of violence. We find that students who undergo the training gain a more nuanced perspective on what constitutes sexual misconduct and are less likely to endorse common rape myths, especially men. However, the training also made students more likely to express some traditional gender stereotypes and less likely—particularly women—to say they would report incidents of sexual assault. Concluding with reflections on the reasons for the counter-productive effects, this paper has implications for the design of institutional responses to sexual misconduct.

Party institutionalization and economic voting: Evidence from India (with Pavithra Suryanarayan)

Economic voting is a well-established phenomenon in the developed world, while findings from developing countries are more ambiguous. We argue that local-level party institutionalization mediates the extent to which voters are informed about, and attribute responsibility to a party for the economy. We focus on one dimension of party institutionalization: the strength of party-candidate linkages in elections. We manually trace the rerunning patterns of some 80,000 candidates in Indian state elections between 1986-2007.Using rerunning patterns as a measure of linkages, and rainfall data as a measure of the state of the economy, we show that voters reward incumbent parties for economic performance when parties and candidates are aligned in consecutive elections. We address concerns of endogeneity in rerunning patterns by showing that the results are robust to alternate measures of local party-institutionalization. They are also robust to alternative measures of the state of the economy and individual-level data.

Missing girls: women’s education and sex ratios in India (Pradeep Chhibber and Susan Ostermann)
Sex ratios in India have been declining for decades, and missing girls are a serious social, political, and economic problem. Drawing on more disaggregated, comprehensive and recent data than that used in previous work, we show that increases in women’s literacy are strongly associated with declining child sex ratios in India. However, this overall relationship masks two countervailing trends. Educated mothers give birth to fewer daughters (lower female natality), but they also seem to be treating their daughters better (higher girl survival). These findings have important implications for the design of policies to combat declining sex ratios worldwide.

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.

Electoral Switching in Indian Elections (with Pavithra Suryanarayan)

This paper focuses on an understudied aspect of party system institutionalization: the strength and stability of linkages between parties and candidates. Using original data on rerunning patterns of candidates across 3,872 constituencies in 26 Indian states 1974–2007, we look at an important manifestation of weak party-candidate linkages: candidates switching parties from one election to the next. We argue that electoral switching result from long-term trends in party system institutionalization. Whereas parties and candidates have incentives to change alliances opportunistically in response to short-term factors like a weak economy, we should expect more such behavior in contexts of weaker party systems. We provide evidence for this drawing on constituency-level estimates of the organizational capacity of parties, the intensity of social cleavages, and economic shocks. Our findings suggest that electoral switching is a useful micro-level measures of party system institutionalization.

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.

Forging Ikumen in Japan: On state efforts to change gender roles (with Mala Htun and Melanie Sayuri Sonntag)

To raise the birth rate and promote women’s advancement, the Japanese state has adopted policies and programs to change gender roles, including the ‘ikumen’—or active father—project. Drawing on surveys conducted 2000-14 and three dozen interviews, we demonstrate changes in attitudes about gender roles and men’s contributions, but little change to working habits and the sexual division of labor. State efforts have produced only an “incomplete revolution,” as economic, social, and legal institutions continue to encourage traditional gender roles. However, our study offers grounds for optimism, as the change in attitudes indicates that new gender roles have gained some legitimacy.

Keeping women out: Incumbency and renomination patterns for female politicians in India

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.