Signs of Discrimination: The Effect of Politician Identity and Party Affiliation on Development Outcomes for Minorities in India
Jilani, Amir Hamza
This paper evaluates whether politician identity, and in particular, the party affiliation of legislators affects employment and welfare outcomes for minorities in India. I combine data on the outcome of close elections to state legislative assemblies over 18 years for 19 Indian states with data on employment and access to social security benefits to determine whether an increase in political representation by legislators belonging to India’s right-wing, Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has a meaningful and causal effect on Muslim development outcomes. Close elections provide a unique window of opportunity to capture random variation in the assignment of legislators to certain districts in India. This natural experiment allows me to isolate the effect of a random increase in BJP political representation using the share of seats won by the BJP in close elections as an instrument for the share of seats won by the BJP across all elections. I find that increasing the district-level proportion of BJP legislators when the BJP is in power at the state-level reduces the likelihood of Muslim employment in both the public and private sector as well as the probability of Muslims having access to social security benefits. These results remain robust with the addition of various individual-level and electoral controls as well as with variations in the definition of a close election. I find no evidence of an adverse effect on Muslims with an increase in the political representation of the Indian National Congress (INC).
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