Risks and Rewards: Three Essays on Political Economy of Indian Democracy During Crises

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2025-01-27

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2022

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Abstract

This dissertation investigates how politically-expedient decisions and resource constraints create winners and losers on the path toward development, focusing on slum evictions, public recordkeeping, and public health crisis response. This manuscript extends findings from prior scholarship on the politics and consequences of redistribution to understand decision-making in the context of urban informality and Covid-19 crisis response in India. I combine survey data with webscraping and remote sensing techniques to study why some urban slums were evicted while others were left intact; which areas experienced underreporting of Covid-19 mortality; and where government directed limited Covid-19 vaccine stocks. I find evidence that greater local economic activity was associated with evictions, that Covid-19 mortality counts were lower in areas aligned with the ruling coalition, and that Covid-19 vaccination supplies were strategically directed to areas of electoral importance to the ruling coalition. Taken together, these findings show that, even during crises, electoral incentives shape policy.

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Downs-Tepper, Harlan (2022). Risks and Rewards: Three Essays on Political Economy of Indian Democracy During Crises. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/26799.

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