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.

It is well established that countries’ institutional features can weaken economic voting by diffusing responsibility for policy outcomes. We argue that local-level party system institutionalization similarly mediates the link between the economy and vote choice. We focus on one dimension of party system institutionalization: the strength of party-candidate linkages in elections, measured by manually tracing the rerunning patterns of some 80,000 candidates in Indian state elections 1986–2007. Using rerun- ning patterns to measure party-candidate linkages and rainfall data to measure the state of the economy, we show that voters are more likely to reward incumbent parties for economic performance when parties and candidates are aligned in consecutive elec- tions. We address concerns of endogeneity in rerunning patterns by showing that the results are robust to alternate measures of local-level party system institutionalization. They are also robust to alternative measures of the state of the economy, and using individual-level survey data.

Age of Marriage and Women’s Political Engagement: Evidence from India (with Fenella Carpena)

Although decades have passed since most women in the democratic world gained the right to vote and run for elections, a large gender gap in political participation persists today, particularly in developing democracies. This short paper considers an important—and heretofore overlooked—factor limiting the political engagement of many women in the developing world: her age of marriage. Drawing on nationally representative data from India and instrumenting marriage age with menarche age, we find substantial positive effects of delaying marriage on women’s participation in everyday politics. A standard deviation increase in marriage age makes a woman 36.2 percent more likely to attend a village meeting, and 6.2 percent more likely discusses politics with her husband. Exploring mechanisms, we show that education and time—rather than employment and mobility—are the main channels of impact. These findings underscore the importance of early marriage as a critical barrier to women’s participation in the political sphere.

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. In this paper, we seek to describe and explain the great variation in electoral switching across the Indian states. Whereas parties and candidates face incentives to change alliances opportunistically in response to short-term factors such as a weak economy, we should expect more such behavior in contexts of weakly organized parties and weak party-voter linkages. We provide evidence for this by using 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.

Violence Against Women as a Violation of Human Rights: Legal Change and Social Norms in Mexico (with Mala Htun)

One of the central achievements of the feminist 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. To what extent has this normative and cultural shift taken root in society? In this paper, we examine whether and how the law has been associated with changes in social norms related to intimate partner violence in Mexico. The country has taken action on VAW at both federal and state levels, and adopted a comprehensive legal regime in 2007. Drawing on four waves of the national survey on the Dynamics of Household Relations (ENDIREH, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2016), we examine trends in experiences, reporting and attitudes surrounding physical domestic abuse. The data are consistent with extensive changes in social norms: there has been a clear reduction in the share of women suffering from violence at the hands of their partners, and an increase in how many of them report these violations. The biggest changes, however, are in attitudes. As time goes on, far fewer women say that a man has the right to hit his partner, that a woman must obey her spouse, or that the violence she has experienced is ‘unimportant’. Our findings suggest that laws on gender violence, and the feminist mobilization surrounding these laws, have triggered significant social changes that may over time lead to greater reductions in violence.

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.