Decentralization and Accountability: Are Voters More Vigilant in Local than in National Elections?

25 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Stuti Khemani

Stuti Khemani

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: February 2001

Abstract

Voters in India are more vigilant in monitoring government at the local than at the national level. In state assembly elections voters reward incumbents for local income growth, and punish them for a rise in inequality, over their entire term in office. But in national elections voters behave myopically, rewarding growth in national income and a fall in inflation and inequality only in the year preceding the election.

Defining vigilance as retrospective voting - where voters evaluate incumbents on their performance during their entire term in office - Khemani compares voter behavior in local and national elections to make inferences about whether voters are more vigilant in monitoring government at the local level. Using data from 14 major states in India over the period 1960-92, she contrasts voters' behavior in state legislative assembly elections with their behavior in national legislative elections.

In state assembly elections voters reward incumbents for local income growth, and punish them for a rise in inequality, over their entire term in office. But in national elections voters behave myopically, rewarding growth in national income and a fall in inflation and inequality only in the year preceding the election. The evidence is consistent with greater voter vigilance and government accountability in local than in national elections.

This paper - a product of Public Economics, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to understand the role of decentralization in improving public service delivery.

Suggested Citation

Khemani, Stuti, Decentralization and Accountability: Are Voters More Vigilant in Local than in National Elections? (February 2001). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2557. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=632624

Stuti Khemani (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/skhemani

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

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Washington, DC 20433
United States

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