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Section 3. Economic Impact of Public Good ProvisionSection 4. Indian District data-setResearch Plan Rohini Pande My research interests lie in the fields of Development Economics and Political Economy. Duringthe academic year 2005-2006 I hope to undertake two survey-based research projects on thepolitical economy of development in India, complete ongoing research in several areas and, finally,collate and disseminate a large Indian district panel dataset on political, social and economicindicators. I am applying for the Yale Junior Faculty Fellowship to help accomplish this.Section 1 provides an overview of my research agenda. Section 2 describes my proposed fieldworkand its relation to my current and completed research. Section 3 describes other research plans for2005-06, and Section 4 the district-level database that I intend to collate and disseminate.1Section 1. Research AgendaThe failure of elected governments to implement appropriate policies is widely considered to be animportant reason for the absence of sustained economic growth and poverty reduction in manyparts of the world. However, our understanding of how economic development affects, and isaffected by, the functioning of political institutions remains limited. My research focuses oncombining theoretical arguments with credible empirical strategies to examine two different facetsof this relationship. First, how do citizens' preferences and political institutions shape policyoutcomes? Second, what is the economic impact of specific public policies when implemented inlow-income countries? My empirical work is largely based on Indian data. India is one of the most ethnically diversecountries in the world, and has witnessed substantial group conflict over the distribution of stateresources. At the same time, it remains the world's largest federal democracy, with Indian statesenjoying substantial independent policy-making powers. Finally, despite substantial economicgrowth over the last two decades, India remains home to a third of the world's poor. In my work,the focus is on combining good quality data on comparable economic units with careful empiricaltechniques. Both with respect to data comparability across economic units and identificationtechniques used, this methodology has the potential of significantly improving upon the previouscross-country data based empirical political economy literature. Section 2. The Political Economy of Development in India2.1. Decentralization and Public Resource Allocation in South IndiaI have a long-standing interest in the design of political institutions for low income countries. Onemotivation for this is the observation that policies enacted by electorally accountable governmentsoften fail to reflect the interests of socially and economically disadvantaged minorities. Thisproblem is severe in many ethnically diverse low-income countries. In Pande (2003) I showed thatthe introduction of mandated political representation for minorities in a democracy, as occurred inIndia at Independence, can both increase their political voice, and the politically determinedtransfers they receive.1 A district is the basic administrative unit in an Indian state. There are over 500 districts in India.My ongoing research on how the choice of political institutions can influence the public resourceallocation process is based on a large household and village survey of public good provision that Iundertook with T.Besley and V.Rao in 2002. The survey covered 522 villages and over 5500households (including 550 politician households) in the four South Indian states. These villageshave had elected local governments since 1993. The survey included an audit of village facilities,village meeting data on local government activism and citizens’ public good concerns, andhousehold survey data for a random sub-sample of 260 villages.In a series of papers (Besley, Pande, Rao and Rahman (2004) and Besley, Pande and Rao (2004a),(2004b)) we use this data to identify how access to political authority, and the use of politicalpower, affects public resource allocation. We also examine how the choice of political institutionsaffects politicians’ policy decisions. Our results favor a model in which public resource allocation,both across and within villages, reflects politicians' self-interest. However, we also find evidencethat the extent and type of political opportunism in resource allocation is responsive to the designof political institutions.Given the relative paucity of household political surveys, this data has the potential of greatlyimproving our understanding of the politics of public resource allocation in village India.However, it is clear that by resurveying these villages and collating a panel dataset we couldundertake a richer analysis of the dynamics of political participation and examine how over-timechanges in politician and household characteristics affects public resource allocation. We couldalso examine how changes in public resource allocation have affected growth in these villages. We are, therefore, planning a resurvey of these villages and households in 2006 and have appliedto the World Bank for funding. During the summer/fall of 2005, in collaboration with an Indiansurvey company, we will run pilot surveys in our sample villages to identify how public resourceallocation in these villages has altered over the last four years. In addition, we will carry out focusgroup meetings to discuss our research findings with villagers, and thereby improve ourinterpretation of the research findings. The results of both the pilot surveys and focus groups willinform the design of the questionnaires for the next survey round. Conditional on getting funding,we anticipate starting the main survey in March 2006.Together with Esther Duflo (MIT) I am also undertaking a qualitative data based research projecton the conduct of village meetings in a subsample of our survey villages, and their implications forpublic service delivery. Village governments are required to hold annual village meetings open toall villagers. These meetings are intended as a forum for villagers to monitor the public resourceallocation process, and also to improve information flows between politicians and


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