Can Political Parties Improve Minority Welfare? Evidence from India's 'Silent Revolution'

73 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2019 Last revised: 7 Feb 2020

See all articles by Abhay Aneja

Abhay Aneja

Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

S.K. Ritadhi

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics; Ashoka University

Date Written: October 6, 2018

Abstract

Electoral quotas guaranteeing a threshold level of political representation for women and underprivileged socio-ethnic/religious minorities have been adopted in over 100 countries. This paper examines how the interaction of such quotas with political party structures affect minority welfare. We examine this question in the context of India, which has a long-standing system of electoral quotas for the representation of historically underprivileged low caste groups, and also witnessed through the 1980s the emergence of caste-based ethnic political parties with an explicit commitment to low caste welfare. Exploiting the outcome of close state legislative assembly elections between caste-based and mainstream parties as a source of exogenous variation, we show that the marginal legislator representing caste-based parties increases low caste households' monthly consumption of subsidized food grains from India's largest safety net program by 4%. Highlighting the importance of political parties' varying interests in redistribution, we show that legislators elected through the electoral quotas -- and thereby hailing from a low caste community by design -- affect redistribution to low-caste households only when they represent caste-based parties; in contrast, legislators elected through the electoral quotas but representing India's other major mainstream parties have virtually no effect on low-caste redistribution. Our results thus highlight an important and under-emphasized role played by the policy preferences of political parties for substantive political representation of socio-ethnic minorities.

Keywords: Ethnic politics; minority representation; electoral quotas; Scheduled Castes/Tribes; redistribution

JEL Classification: H32, H53, H54, I38, J15, O12, O23, P16

Suggested Citation

Aneja, Abhay and Ritadhi, S.K. and Ritadhi, S.K., Can Political Parties Improve Minority Welfare? Evidence from India's 'Silent Revolution' (October 6, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3327969 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3327969

Abhay Aneja

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

S.K. Ritadhi (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Ashoka University ( email )

Plot #2,
Rajiv Gandhi Education City
Kundli, 131028
India

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.ashoka.edu.in/welcome/faculty#!/sk-ritadhi-1691

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