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When Do Legislators Pass on Pork? The Role of Political Parties in Determining Legislator Effort


A central challenge in political economy is to identify the conditions under which legislators seek to “bring home the pork” to constituents. We conduct the first systematic analysis of one determinant of constituency service, voter attachment to political parties, holding constant electoral and political institutions. Our analysis takes advantage of data from a unique type of public spending program that is proliferating across developing countries, the constituency development fund (CDF), which offers more precise measures of legislator effort than are common in the literature. Examining the CDF in India, we find that legislator effort is significantly lower in constituencies that are party strongholds. This result, which is robust to controls for alternate explanations, implies that legislators pass on pork when voters are more attached to political parties. It has implications not only for understanding political incentives and the dynamics of party formation, but also for evaluating the impact of CDFs.

Corresponding author
Philip Keefer is Lead Research Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20422 (
Stuti Khemani is Senior Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20422 (
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American Political Science Review
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