Public Information is an Incentive for Politicians: Experimental Evidence from Delhi Elections
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
Two years prior to elections, two-thirds of Delhi municipal councilors learned that they had been randomly chosen for a pre-election
newspaper report card. Treated councilors in high-slum areas increased pro-poor spending, relative both to control counterparts and
treated counterparts from low-slum areas. Treated incumbents ineligible to rerun in home wards because of randomly assigned gender
quotas were substantially likelier to run elsewhere only if their report card showed a strong pro-poor spending record. Parties also
benefited electorally from councilors' high pro-poor spending. In
contrast, in a cross-cut experiment, councilors did not react to actionable information that was not publicly disclosed.