Does Political Connections and Affiliation Affect Allocation of Benefits in the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme: Evidence from West Bengal, India

33 Pages Posted: 9 May 2013

Date Written: May 1, 2013

Abstract

Decentralization at the local level in developing economies can be seen as a force of social change with the power at the hands of the citizens to influence policies according to their needs. However, the problem of political clientelism may be imminent where public resources are allocated to individuals or specific groups who are members of the political party locally in power. In this context, using survey data for 540 rural households in the Cooch Behar District of the State of West Bengal, this paper investigates the prevalence of political clientelism in allocating works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which is implemented and carried out at the local level.

It is found that households that are well connected to the political parties have significantly higher chances of getting work, compared to those who are not connected. Similar results are found for households who support the local ruling political party in power. Furthermore, it is found that politically well-connected households and ruling party supporters are associated with a significantly higher number of days of work. Ethnographic evidences collected from the field corroborate with these findings.

In further analysis, the paper explores whether or not political clientelism is stronger in left governed villages, and finds that to be the case. The study points to the existence of political clientelism in the implementation of MGNREGA, and lays emphasis on the importance of reducing rationing of labor to curb clientelism.

Keywords: political connections, political support, MGNREGA, West Bengal

JEL Classification: I38, J71, J78

Suggested Citation

Das, Upasak, Does Political Connections and Affiliation Affect Allocation of Benefits in the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme: Evidence from West Bengal, India (May 1, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2262533 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2262533

Upasak Das (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Manchester
United Kingdom

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