Wednesday, 1st March 2017
13:00 - 14:00
CESS Seminar Rooms - 3 George Street Mews
The Impact of Partisan Politics on Bureaucratic Performance: Evidence from India
Existing studies show party alignment impacts positively the distribution of government resources, implicitly assuming this improves policy outcomes. The opposite could be true, however, if alignment reduces the incentives for good bureaucratic performance. To illustrate this alternative, I introduce a theory where only co-partisan legislators credibly threaten to punish bureaucrats. The theory yields two predictions. First, co-partisan legislators are more likely to sponsor, and bureaucrats to approve projects associated with higher rents. Second, legislators anticipating a favorable disposition from bureaucrats, use more resources during periods of partisan alignment. I test these predictions focusing on India’s Member of Parliament Local Development Scheme. As evidence of the political pressure exerted on bureaucrats, the paper shows co-partisans experience shorter project approval times, and anticipating favorable treatment, co-partisans use more resources. Finally, I show that co-partisans oversee the implementation of low quality projects more frequently, suggesting they are better positioned to extract rents.