DP5201 Political Selection and the Quality of Government: Evidence from South India

Author(s): Timothy J. Besley, Rohini Pande, Vijayendra Rao
Publication Date: August 2005
Keyword(s): decentralization, India, political economy, public provision of private goods
JEL(s): H11, H42, O12, O20
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5201

This paper uses household data from India to examine the economic and social status of village politicians, and how individual and village characteristics affect politician behaviour while in office. Education increases the chances of selection to public office and reduces the odds that a politician uses political power opportunistically. In contrast, land ownership and political connections enable selection but do not affect politician opportunism. At the village level, changes in the identity of the politically dominant group alter the group allocation of resources but not politician opportunism. Improved information flows in the village, however, reduce opportunism and improve resource allocation.