Crime, Incentives and Political Effort: A Model and Empirical Application for India
64 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2016
Date Written: March 1, 2015
The large share of politicians facing criminal accusations in India has sparked a public debate and an emerging literature that assesses its causes and effects. We develop a model of the incentives faced by members of parliament when deciding whether to engage in effort for their constituency to assess the effect of their having a criminal background on their decision. We use direct and clearly identifiable measures of effort in the 14 Lok Sabha over the 2004-2009 legislative period: attendance rates, parliamentary activity, and utilization rates of a local area development scheme. The findings suggest that criminal MPs exhibit on average about 5% lower attendance rates and lower utilization rates, but no difference in parliamentary activity. The results depend on the development level of the constituency, a proxy for rent-seeking possibilities and monitoring intensity, as well as on the measurement of criminal background. We use selection on observables, matching techniques, and treatment effect regressions to demonstrate why these negative relations should constitute an upper bound estimate for the causal effect of criminality and to show they are unlikely to be driven by selection on unobservabels.
Keywords: India, Elections, Crime, Good and bad politicians, Development, Attendance and activity in parliament, Political economy
JEL Classification: D72, H11, I38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation