Effect of Redrawing of Political Boundaries on Voting Patterns: Evidence from State Reorganization in India
45 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007
Date Written: 2007
This paper analyzes the impact of a redrawing of political boundaries on voting patterns, and also investigates whether this leads to a better conformity of the electorate's voting patterns with their political preferences. We study these issues in the context of a reorganization of states in India. Madhya Pradesh, the biggest state in India before the reorganization, was subdivided into Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in 2000, the latter accounting for less than one-fourth of the electorate of undivided Madhya Pradesh. Using socio-economic composition and traditional voting patterns, we argue that there were differences in political preferences between Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Next, in the context of a theoretical model that captures some of the basic features of the electoral scenario of the two regions, we find that before reorganization the smaller region would vote strategically to elect representatives with preferences more closely aligned to those of the bigger region. Once it constitutes a separate state however, this motive would no longer operate and the voting distributions of the two regions would be comparatively disparate. Exploiting detailed data on state elections in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in 1993, 1998 and 2003 and a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, we find that indeed voting patterns in the two regions were very similar before reorganization, while they were strikingly different after, with a relative shift in Chhattisgarh towards its inherent political preferences. These findings are reasonably robust in that they continue to hold after controlling for other confounding factors and survive several sensitivity tests.
Keywords: Political boundaries, Voting, Transfers
JEL Classification: P16, D72, H77, O10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation