marzo 18, 2019

New paper on the long-run evolution of political cleavages in India

This new paper by Abhijit Banerjee, Amory Gethin and Thomas Piketty combines surveys, election results and social spending data to document a long-run evolution of political cleavages in India. From a dominant-party system featuring the Indian National Congress as the main actor of the mediation of political conflicts, Indian politics have gradually come to include a number of smaller regionalist parties and, more recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). These changes coincide with the rise of religious divisions and the persistence of strong caste-based cleavages, while education, income and occupation play little role (controlling for caste) in determining voters’ choices. The authors find no evidence that India’s new party system has been associated with changes in social policy. While BJP-led states are generally characterized by a smaller social sector, switching to a party representing upper castes or upper classes has no significant effect on social spending. They interpret this as evidence that voters seem to be less driven by straightforward economic interests than by sectarian interests and cultural priorities. In India, as in many Western democracies, political conflicts have become increasingly focused on identity and religious-ethnic conflicts rather than on tangible material benefits and class-based redistribution.

Vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party and other right-wing parties by caste, 1962-2014