The Political Economy of Government Responsive-Ness: Theory and Evi-Dence from India

2430 Words Jun 24th, 2015 10 Pages
1. Introduction
Extensive research has been conducted on the topic of how media circulation affects political accountability and government policy. Theory predicts that for a higher share of media receivers, political accountability and hence government expenditures increase. Besley & Burgess (2002) give additional insight into this topic by analyzing the impact of media circulation on government responsiveness to falls in food production and crop flood damage in Indian states. The authors use the extent of public food distribution and calamity relief as proxies for government responsiveness. In addition to media factors, political and economic factors are introduced as potential determinants of policies. The predictions of the theory are
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Finally, citizens base their voting decisions on different criteria. Only vulnerable citizens are influenced in their decision by the effort put in by incumbents. Vulnerable citizens who are not needy receive information about an incumbents’ effort from the media, needy citizens do in addition directly experience the effort level. It is assumed that uninformed vulnerable citizens do not vote. Non-vulnerable citizens decide who to vote for solely by means of ideological reasons.
The model assumes that an opportunistic incumbent elected in the first period chooses the effort level in order to maximize reelection chances for the subsequent period. In the second period however, only altruistic incumbents will put in effort to help the needy because there is no incentive anymore for opportunistic incumbents to put in effort since a third period and therefore also reelection chances are nonexistent. As vulnerable citizens do not vote for selfish incumbents, they only vote for an incumbent in case they learned about effort put in by this incumbent in the prior period.
The above outlined model gives the following predictions: An opportunistic incumbent increases his effort level if voters have better access to media because in this case the population learns about the effort. Moreover incumbents show more effort if turnout is higher in elections, if a larger fraction of the population is

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