Essays in Economic Development and Political Economy
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CitationNeggers, Yusuf. 2016. Essays in Economic Development and Political Economy. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe three chapters in this dissertation examine aspects of the relationships between transparency, government accountability, and the quality of public services. In the first chapter, I ask how ethnic diversity, or lack thereof, among polling station officials affects voting outcomes. I exploit a natural experiment occurring in the 2014 parliamentary elections in India, where the government mandated the random assignment of state employees to the teams that managed polling stations on election day. I find that the presence of officers of minority identities within teams led to significant shifts in vote share toward the political parties associated with these groups. Results suggest that the magnitude of these effects is large enough to be relevant to election outcomes. Using large-scale survey experiments, I provide evidence of own-group favoritism in polling personnel and identify the process of voter identity verification as an important channel through which voting outcomes are impacted.
The second chapter examines whether electronic procurement (e-procurement), which increases access to information and reduces personal interactions with potentially corrupt officials, improves procurement outcomes in India and Indonesia. We find no evidence of reduced prices but do find that e-procurement leads to quality improvements in both countries. Regions with e-procurement are also more likely to have winners come from outside the region. On net, the results suggest that e-procurement facilitates entry from higher quality contractors.
The third chapter studies the effects of the enactment across U.S. states of open meetings laws which ostensibly increase the public availability of information on legislator behavior. As recent work shows that increased remoteness of capital cities in U.S. states is strongly associated with reduced accountability and worse government performance, I also investigate how the impacts of open meetings vary with state capital isolation. I find that open meetings increase spending on public goods and heighten confidence in state government on average. Heterogeneous impacts on incumbent vote share suggest that at both low and high levels of initial accountability, open meetings provide citizens with additional information that influences voting decisions.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493380
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