Crime, Incentives and Political Effort: A Model and Empirical Application for India
54 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2017
Date Written: October 4, 2016
Political representatives with criminal backgrounds are considered a great problem in many countries. In India in particular, the public disclosure of the large share of politicians currently facing criminal charges has sparked a heated public debate and emerging literature assessing the causes and effects. We develop a model of the incentives faced by members of parliament (MPs) when deciding whether to engage in effort for their constituencies to assess these consequences. Based on the coding of published affidavits and a comprehensive set of three proxies to measure effort in the 14th Lok Sabha over the 2004-2009 legislative period, we put the model to an empirical test. MPs facing criminal accusations exhibit on average about 5% lower attendance rates and lower utilization rates in a local area development fund, and less (but insignificantly) parliamentary activity. As predicted by the model, these differences depend on the development level of the constituency, a proxy for rent-seeking possibilities and monitoring intensity. We argue and demonstrate why these negative relations should constitute an upper bound estimate of the causal effect, and show that even under conservative assumptions the effect is unlikely to be caused by unaccounted selection-bias.
Keywords: India, Elections, Crime, Good and Bad Politicians, Development, Attendance and Activity in Parliament, Political Economy
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