When Voters Reward Enactment But Not Implementation: Evidence from the World's Largest Social Program
25 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2014 Last revised: 29 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 26, 2015
Voter attribution lies at the heart of democratic accountability. Utilizing data on the world’s largest social program, this paper provides evidence that voters employ a heuristic of rewarding the enactment of new government programs to a greater extent than implementation, which is characterizing by informational difficulties of monitoring and attribution. Exploiting the staggered roll-out of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), this paper provides evidence that in the short run voters rewarded the party responsible for enacting the program. By contrast, panel regressions show a weak relationship between the amount of employment provided under NREGA and electoral returns within districts over time. The tendency of voters to reward enactment over implementation can account for the puzzle of social program proliferation and weak implementation across developing countries.
Keywords: South Asia, Political Economy, Anti-poverty Programs, Elections, Federalism
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