Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Development: Evidence from India

Saad Gulzar, Benjamin J. Pasquale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations

Abstract

When do politicians prompt bureaucrats to provide effective services? Leveraging the uneven overlap of jurisdictions in India, we compare bureaucrats supervised by a single political principal with those supervised by multiple politicians. With an original dataset of nearly half a million villages, we find that implementation of India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the largest employment program in the world, is substantially better where bureaucrats answer to a single politician. Regression discontinuity estimates help increase confidence that this result is causal. Our findings suggest that politicians face strong incentives to motivate bureaucrats as long as they internalize the benefits from doing so. In contrast to a large literature on the deleterious effects of political interventions, our results show that political influence may be more favorable to development than is commonly assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-183
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume111
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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