Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Efficacy of “Town Hall” Meetings in Electoral Democracy: Theory and Evidence from Indian Village Councils


Sabyasachi Das

Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi

Thursday, 29th October 2015 at 3:00 PM

Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited

This paper determines the relevance of institutionalized meetings in (local) electoral democracies; the context is the mandated local meetings (Gram Sabhas) in India’s village councils. The model builds in interdependence between election and meeting outcome by allowing the elected policymaker to influence meeting procedure. Voting groups with different preferences (men and women) attend meeting to probabilistically constrain policymaker’s policy-choice ex-post. Equilibrium meeting attendance patterns of groups under policymakers from different groups are analyzed. Empirical evidence is shown by exploiting the exogenous reservation of village-chair elections for women. Consistent with theory, I find that the meeting attendance rates of both men and women respond the same way following reservation; the direction of change depends on the majority status of women. I argue that this pattern of attendance rules out other possible mechanisms. Also, I find that the relative attendance of women positively affects the “gender composition” of public good provision.

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