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On Tuesday, February 23, 2010, The Center for Global Development and The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies presented a Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS)* on Do Voters Demand Responsive Governments?
Evidence from Indian Disaster Relief featuring Shawn Cole from Harvard Business School. University of Maryland's Madiha Afzal served as the discussant.
Abstract: Using rainfall, public relief, and election data from India, we examine how governments respond to adverse shocks and how voters react to these responses. The data show that voters punish the incumbent party for weather events beyond its control. However, fewer voters punish the ruling party when its government responds vigorously to the crisis, indicating that voters reward the government for responding to disasters. We also find evidence suggesting that voters only respond to rainfall and government relief efforts during the year immediately preceding the election. In accordance with these electoral incentives, governments appear to be more generous with disaster relief in election years. These results describe how failures in electoral accountability can lead to suboptimal policy outcomes.
*The Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS) series is an effort by the Center for Global Development and The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies to take advantage of the incredible concentration of great international development scholars in the Metro Washington, DC area. The series seeks to bring together members of this community and improve communication between them.