Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Katrina and the votes 

Using rainfall, public relief, and election data from India, we examine how governments respond to adverse shocks and how voters react to these responses. The data show that voters punish the incumbent party for weather events beyond its control. However, we find evidence that fewer voters punish the ruling party when the party responds vigorously to the crisis. Moreover, severe crises are associated with increased voter sensitivity to disaster assistance. These results are consistent with models of government accountability, and provide an explanation for Amartya Sen�s claim that democratic governments respond better to salient emergencies than to less conspicuous ones. Even so, the results suggest that even the most responsive government will fare worse in the subsequent election than had there been no disaster.
Abstract of a new paper. (h/t: Chris Blattman)