Political Inclusion

Do Politicians Discriminate Against Internal Migrants? Evidence from Nationwide Field Experiments in India

Author : Nikhar Gaikwad, Gareth Nellis | 2016
Published By: Yale University

In recent decades, the global south has witnessed an explosive increase in the number of people relocating from rural to urban areas. Yet many migrants struggle to integrate into destination cities, facing severe hurdles to accessing adequate housing, as well as essential public goods and services such as healthcare and education. We posit that a key explanation for these difficulties lies in unequal political representation. We conduct two audit experiments to test whether urban politicians discriminate against internal migrants vis-`a-vis long-term residents (“natives”) in providing essential constituency services. We find that fictitious migrants are 23% less likely to receive a callback from a councilor in response to a mailed letter request for assistance compared to an otherwise similar native. What mechanisms explain this effect?

URL : http://www.garethnellis.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Do-Politicians-Discriminate-MAR16.pdf

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