The Efficacy of Parochial Politics: Caste, Commitment, and Competence in Indian Local Governments

49 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2008

See all articles by Kaivan D. Munshi

Kaivan D. Munshi

Brown University - Department of Economics

Mark R. Rosenzweig

Yale University - Economic Growth Center; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2008

Abstract

Parochial politics is typically associated with poor leadership and low levels of public good provision. This paper explores the possibility that community involvement in politics need not necessarily worsen governance and, indeed, can be efficiency-enhancing when the context is appropriate. Complementing the new literature on the role of community networks in solving market problems, we test the hypothesis that strong traditional social institutions can discipline the leaders they put forward, successfully substituting for secular political institutions when they are ineffective. Using new data on Indian local governments at the ward level over multiple terms, and exploiting the randomized election reservation system, we find that the presence of a numerically dominant sub-caste (caste equilibrium) is associated with the selection of leaders with superior observed characteristics and with greater public good provision. This improvement in leadership competence occurs without apparently diminishing leaders' responsiveness to their constituency.

Keywords: Politics, Commitment, Governance

JEL Classification: H11, H44, O12

Suggested Citation

Munshi, Kaivan D. and Rosenzweig, Mark Richard, The Efficacy of Parochial Politics: Caste, Commitment, and Competence in Indian Local Governments (September 2008). Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 964; Yale Economics Department Working Paper No. 53. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1272500

Kaivan D. Munshi

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Box B
Providence, RI 02912
United States
401-863-9331 (Phone)
401-863-1970 (Fax)

Mark Richard Rosenzweig (Contact Author)

Yale University - Economic Growth Center ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States
203-432-3620 (Phone)

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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