Efficiency and Rent Seeking in Local Government in India

Last registered on January 11, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Efficiency and Rent Seeking in Local Government in India
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001753
Initial registration date
January 11, 2017

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 11, 2017, 3:28 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
London School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
J-PAL
PI Affiliation
Indian Institute of Management (IIM)

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
1998-01-01
End date
2001-08-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
One of the traditional trade-offs about whether local public good provision should be decentralized is between efficiency and rent seeking: decentralized governments may be better at eliciting people’s preferences than a centralized government, but they may have a higher chance to be captured by local elites and politically powerful groups. This paper seeks to shed light to this debate by answering several related questions, in the context of the decentralization in India. First, are mandated representation effective at increasing the share of public goods that reach minorities in a decentralized government?1 Second, does the allocation of public goods appear to be efficient in a local government? In other words, even if minorities are disadvantaged, are they getting the mix of goods that they want? Third, is there evidence that powerful groups are getting more public goods than weak groups? And is there evidence that the elected officials take advantage of their position to provide more goods to their own constituencies?
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
, , Esther Duflo and Greg Fischer. 2017. "Efficiency and Rent Seeking in Local Government in India." AEA RCT Registry. January 11. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1753
Former Citation
, , Esther Duflo and Greg Fischer. 2017. "Efficiency and Rent Seeking in Local Government in India." AEA RCT Registry. January 11. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1753/history/12992
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
The Indian government randomly assigned Gram Panchayat ("GP," local village councils) to reserve a fraction of all positions of chief to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. This yields two types of local village councils:

1) Councils where GP positions were reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
2) Councils where GP positions were unreserved
Intervention Start Date
1998-01-01
Intervention End Date
2001-08-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
types of public goods, location of public goods (rent seeking), share of investments across public goods
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
location of public goods (rent seeking): Are public officials investing most/all public goods in their home village?

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In 1993, an amendment to the constitution of India ordered the States both to devolve more power over expenditure to local village councils (Gram Panchayat, henceforth GP) and to reserved a fraction of all positions of chief (Pradhan) to scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) in proportion to their representation in the population. The seats to be reserved were randomly chosen. We conducted a detailed survey of all investments in local public goods in a sample of villages in Birbhum, in West Bengal, including information on the location of the public goods (the village within the GP, and the hamlet within the village). Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, religious minorities, and other groups, live in segregated hamlets, and many public goods (such as wells, are useful locally). We are thus able to estimate whether scheduled castes Pradhans tend to put more goods in scheduled castes hamlets, whether they change the mix of public goods provided in the villages, and whether they change the mix of goods available in scheduled castes hamlets. Because reserved constituencies were randomly assigned, we can confidently attribute any difference between the location or the types of public goods to the reservations policy.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
This is a randomized policy experiment by the Indian Government, which conducted the randomization.
Randomization Unit
Gram Panchayat (local village council)
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
161 Gram Panchayat (local village councils)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
55 GPs reserved for SC, 106 GPs unreserved
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
August 01, 2001, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
August 01, 2001, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
No clusters
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
161 GPs
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
55 GPs reserved for SC, 106 GPs unreserved
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
Yes

Program Files

Program Files
No
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
One of the traditional trade-offs about whether local public good provision should be decentralized is between efficiency and rent seeking: decentralized governments may be better at eliciting people’s preferences than a centralized government, but they may have a higher chance to be captured by local elites and politically powerful groups. This paper seeks to shed light to this debate by answering several related questions, in the context of the decentralization in India. First, are mandated representation effective at increasing the share of public goods that reach minorities in a decentralized government?1 Second, does the allocation of public goods appear to be efficient in a local government? In other words, even if minorities are disadvantaged, are they getting the mix of goods that they want? Third, is there evidence that powerful groups are getting more public goods than weak groups? And is there evidence that the elected officials take advantage of their position to provide more goods to their own constituencies?
Citation
Duflo, Esther, Greg Fischer, and Raghabendra Chattopadhyay. "Efficiency and Rent Seeking in Local Government: Evidence from Randomized Policy Experiments in India." Working Paper, MIT, February 28, 2005.

Reports & Other Materials