Discussion paper

DP16158 Leader identity and coordination

This paper examines policy effectiveness as a function of leader identity. We experimentally vary leader
religious identity in a coordination game implemented in India, and focus upon citizen reactions to
leader identity, controlling for leader actions. We find that minority leaders improve coordination,
while majority leaders do not. Alternative treatment arms reveal that affirmative action for minorities
reverses this result, while intergroup contact improves the effectiveness of leaders of both identities.
We also find that minority leaders are less effective in towns with a history of intergroup conflict. Our
results demonstrate that leader and policy effectiveness depend upon citizen reactions, conditioned
by social identity and past conflict.


Bhalotra, S, I Clots Figueras, L Iyer and J Vecci (2021), ‘DP16158 Leader identity and coordination‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16158. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16158