Friday, 15 June 2012

Factors influencing Government Responsiveness

extracts from:
Belsey, Timothy and Burgess, R. 2002, "THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF GOVERNMENT RESPONSIVENESS: THEORY AND EVIDENCE FROM INDIA", The Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 2002.

In this article Belsey and Burgess present evidence from India that a more informed and politically active electorate strengthens incentives for governments to be responsive. State governments were found to be more responsive to quality of public distribution system, and calamity relief expenditure, where newspaper circulation is higher and electoral accountability greater. High newspaper circulation was achieved by a prominence of local newspapers in the regional language, which discussed local issues and gave voice to the people- putting pressure on local administration to perform better. Additionally increased accountability of the elected representatives to the public, especially vulnerable sections, was achieved in cases where electoral turnout is high and political competition is intense. Mass media can play a key role by enabling vulnerable citizens to monitor the actions of incumbents and to use this information in their voting decisions.

In other studies, Brunetti and Weder [1999] and Ahrend [2000] find that press freedom is associated with lower levels of corruption. Djankov et al (2001) found that state ownership of the media is, on the whole, negatively correlated with good government.

This suggests that there is a role for both democratic institutions and mass media in ensuring that the preferences of citizens are reflected in policy.Thus Belsey and Burgess conclude that representative democracy and the development of free and independent regional presses appear as key factors in ensuring protection for vulnerable citizens.

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