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Public Information is an Incentive for Politicians: Experimental Evidence from Delhi Elections

Abhijit Banerjee, Nils T. Enevoldsen, Rohini Pande, Michael Walton

NBER Working Paper No. 26925
Issued in April 2020
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Public Economics

In 2010, we informed a random set of Delhi councilors, some ineligible for re-election in their current ward, that a newspaper would report on their performance shortly prior to the 2012 city elections. Using slum dwellers' spending preferences, we created a councilor-specific index of pro-poor spending. Treated councilors increased pro-poor spending in high-slum wards. Cross-cutting experiments suggest that the public nature of report cards, not access to information on public services per se, incentivized councilors. Data on party ticket allocation and electoral outcomes shows that, in low-information situations, credible public disclosures of politician achievements matters to both parties and voters.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26925

 
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