NOTE: UNUSUAL TIME (4.15-5.30 pm)!
Dilip Mookherjee is Professor of Economics and the Director of the Institute for Economic Development at Boston University.
Seminar topic: “Resource Transfers to Local Governments: Political Manipulation and Voting Patterns in West Bengal”
Abstract: This paper examines how electoral competition in legislative constituencies affects allocation of resources to local governments and its subsequent impacts on voter behavior. Specifically, we examine the role of clientelistic relationship between incumbent politicians and voters in driving the effect of competition on resource allocation. We classify programatic benefits into recurring benefits (those that sustain clientelistic relationship) and onetime benefits (those that provide one shot interaction between politicians and voters). Using a natural experiment in India, we show that incumbent Left Front-controlled districts in West bengal significantly increased resource transfers to LF-dominated villages if its competitiveness at the legislature reduced exogenously. Stronger changes in inter-village allocations were exhibited for recurring private benefits. Correspondingly, voters respond more to such recurring benefits compared to other types of benefits. Moreover, we show that voter’s expectation of who is going to come to power matters for voting behavior. The evidence is consistent with models of clientelistic relational contracts between parties and voters and inconsistent with models of electoral opportunism based on pork-barrel politics.