Do Citizens Enforce Accountability for Public Goods Provision? Evidence from India’s Rural Roads Program
66 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2019 Last revised: 22 Jan 2023
Date Written: April 26, 2019
This paper investigates voter responsiveness to the world's largest rural roads program, a highly visible development program that improved connectivity for one-third of humanity that previously lacked road access. Investigating 180,000 roads provided across half a million Indian villages aggregated across multiple elections over the last 20 years, the paper finds that road provision fails to boost electoral support for the ruling party. Exploiting population-based implementation rules that partly determine road allocation, instrumental variable regressions show that voters remain unresponsive to exogenous road provision. Exploiting subnational variation in implementation and political alignment, analysis shows that factors that breakdown the accountability chain, such as quality, salience, myopia, corruption, or attribution concerns, do not explain these results. The findings suggest that weak accountability presents a more enduring challenge to democracy than assumed in theoretical models and policy interventions.
Keywords: Roads, Rural India, Accountability, Governance
JEL Classification: D72, D80, D83, Z18, R28
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