“Targeting of Local Government Programs and Voting Patterns in West Bengal, India Speaker:” by Prof. Dilip Mookherjee
We examine how electoral competition in legislative constituencies affects allocation of resources to local governments, and its subsequent impacts on voter behavior in the state of West Bengal, India between 2003-2011. The main results are that (i) higher levels of government manipulated the allocation of different local development/benefit programs to local village governments strategically in response to changes in political competition; (ii) these are rationalized by voter responses to the delivery of benefits by local governments. We show evidence for the existence of clientelistic relational contracts between parties and voters, wherein voters respond more to the delivery of recurring private benefits rather than local public goods or one-time private benefits; these responses are stronger when they expect incumbents are more likely to be re-elected. These results indicate various ways in which governance is distorted owing to the presence of political clientelism.