Declining clientelism of welfare benefits? Evidence from an Indian state

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics

Event details

ACDE Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 05 March 2024


Seminar Room 7 JG Crawford Building and Online Zoom


Pushkar Maitra, Monash University

It has been argued that since 2014, under the BJP-led central government, welfare benefits in India have become better targeted and less prone to clientelistic control by state and local governments. Arguably this has helped to increase the vote share of the BJP vis-à-vis regional parties. We test these hypotheses using longitudinal data from 3,500 rural households in the state of West Bengal. We fail to find evidence that the new “central” programs introduced after 2014 were better targeted than traditional “state” programs, or that the targeting of state programs improved after 2014. Households receiving the new “central” benefits introduced since 2014 were more likely to switch their political support to the BJP. Our results suggest that ideology and identity politics were important factors explaining the rising popularity of the BJP.

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