Pranab Bardhan, Sandip Mitra, Dilip Mookherjee and Abhirup Sarkar
This paper provides evidence concerning
political participation (turnout, awareness, attendance at meetings, campaign
involvement, voting) and its relation to local governance (targeting of public
services) in a developing country, based on a rural household survey in West
Bengal, India. We find that reported participation rates varied remarkably
little with socio-economic status, with the exception of education and
immigrant status. Within villages, benefits disbursed by local governments
displayed no relation to wealth, caste, education, gender or political
affiliations. In contrast, allocation of benefits across villages by higher-level governments displayed bias against
the poor; these biases were larger in villages with more unequal landownership
and lower participation rates in village meetings. Political support among voters for the dominant Left party was
positively correlated with receipt of recurring benefits and help provided by
local governments in times of personal need, but not long-term one-time
benefits or local public goods provided.
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