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Crime, incentives and political effort: Evidence from India

Kai Gehring, T. Florian Kauffeldt and Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati

European Journal of Political Economy, 2019, vol. 59, issue C, 1-20

Abstract: Political representatives with criminal backgrounds are considered a great problem in many countries. In India, public disclosure of the large share of politicians currently facing criminal charges has sparked a heated public debate and emerging literature assessing the causes and effects. We develop two hypotheses based on our theoretical considerations. Based on the coding of published affidavits and a comprehensive set of three proxies to measure effort in the 14th Lok Sabha over the 2004–2009 legislative period, we put these hypotheses to an empirical test. Members of the parliament (MPs) facing criminal accusations exhibit on average about 5% lower attendance rates and lower utilization rates in a local area development fund, but only insignificantly lower parliamentary activity. In line with our hypotheses, these differences decline in the development level of the constituency - a proxy for higher rent-seeking possibilities and monitoring intensity. We argue and demonstrate why these negative relations should constitute an upper bound estimate of the causal effect, and show that even under conservative assumptions the effect is unlikely to be caused by unaccounted selection-bias.

Keywords: India; Elections; Crime; Corruption; Development; Attendance; Parliamentary activity; Accountability; Elections (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 H11 I38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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