DP6381 Parochial Politics: Ethnic Preferences and Politician Corruption

Author(s): Abhijit Banerjee, Rohini Pande
Publication Date: July 2007
Keyword(s): Corruption, Ethnic Voting, India
JEL(s): O12, P16
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=6381

This paper examines how increased voter ethnicization, defined as a greater preference for the party representing one's ethnic group, affects politician quality. If politics is characterized by incomplete policy commitment, then ethnicization reduces average winner quality for the pro-majority party with the opposite true for the minority party. The effect increases with greater numerical dominance of the majority (and so social homogeneity). Empirical evidence from a survey on politician corruption that we conducted in North India is remarkably consistent with our theoretical predictions.