Department Seminar Series

13 Jan 2015

Title: Do Electoral Politics Matters in MG-NREGS Implementation? Evidence from Village Council Election in West Bengal. Speaker: Subhasish Dey, University of Manchester Venue: Room 32 (Department of Economics, University of Calcutta) Abstract Under democracy in developing world provisioning of public good is intrinsically linked with the preference of the political masters. We define “Political Nepotism” as a situation when existing ruling party in a democratic government positively discriminates its own party constituencies from other party constituencies in allocating public good. In light of allocation of funds for India's flagship programme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), we test whether such Political Nepotism exists and if so, then what are the feedback effects on the following election. Using Village Council Election data for 2008 and 2013, and NREGS expenditure for 2010 to 2012 for a panel of 569 wards (Gram Sansad) over 49 Gram Panchayats from 3 districts of West Bengal, we test the existence and effects of Political Nepotism. We followed Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design as our main quasi-experimental regression design. We find in general Village Council level ruling-party spends more in their own party constituencies. However, results differ between specific parties. The Right Populist Party reaps significant benefit in electoral outcome through strong Political Nepotism, whereas the Left Party does not seem to behave in this way, lowering their probability of getting re-elected. This finding is a deviation from the theory, given the predictions of standard voting models, which says political leaders who are concerned with re-election would focus on delivering benefits to ‘swing voters’ and not the