Public Information is an Incentive for Politicians: Experimental Evidence from Delhi Elections

59 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2020 Last revised: 28 Jul 2021

See all articles by Abhijit V. Banerjee

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Nils Enevoldsen

Independent

Rohini Pande

Yale University - Economic Growth Center

Michael Walton

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

In 2010, we informed a random set of Delhi councilors, some ineligible for re-election in their current ward, that a newspaper would report on their performance shortly prior to the 2012 city elections. Using slum dwellers' spending preferences, we created a councilor-specific index of pro-poor spending. Treated councilors increased pro-poor spending in high-slum wards. Cross-cutting experiments suggest that the public nature of report cards, not access to information on public services per se, incentivized councilors. Data on party ticket allocation and electoral outcomes shows that, in low-information situations, credible public disclosures of politician achievements matters to both parties and voters.

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Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Enevoldsen, Nils and Pande, Rohini and Walton, Michael, Public Information is an Incentive for Politicians: Experimental Evidence from Delhi Elections (April 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26925, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3569390

Abhijit V. Banerjee (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Nils Enevoldsen

Independent ( email )

Rohini Pande

Yale University - Economic Growth Center ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

Michael Walton

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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617-496-5747 (Fax)

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