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The Effects of Malapportionment on Cabinet Inclusion: Subnational Evidence from India

  • Rikhil R. Bhavnani


Malapportionment doubly penalizes people from relatively large electoral districts or constituencies by under-representing them in the legislature and in the political executive or cabinet. The latter effect has not been studied. This article develops theoretical reasons for large constituency disadvantage in the cabinet formation process, and tests them using a new repeated cross-sectional dataset on elections and cabinet formation in India’s states, from 1977–2007. A one-standard-deviation increase in relative constituency size is associated with a 22 per cent fall in the probability of a constituency’s representative being in the cabinet. Malapportionment affects cabinet inclusion by causing large parties to focus on winning relatively small constituencies. These effects are likely to hold in parliamentary systems, and in other contexts where the legislature influences cabinet inclusion.



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Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin–Madison (email: I thank the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Stanford University and the National Science Foundation (SES-0921125) for research support. Many thanks to Pablo Beramendi, Anjali Bohlken, Shaun Bowler, Gary Cox, Jim Fearon, Steve Haber, Yoshiko Herrera, Karen Jusko, Kimuli Kasara, David Laitin, Frances Lee, Jonathan Rodden, Hiroki Takeuchi, Jonathan Wand, Jeremy Weinstein, Steven Wilkinson, three anonymous referees, and participants at the Stanford Comparative Politics Workshop and the MPSA Annual Conference for comments and discussions. Thanks also to Kalpana Sharma for helping me access India’s parliament library, to Trivik Bhavnani and Francesca Jensenius for their help in completing the cabinet dataset, and to Sona Das for data entry. Data and replication code are available at, and online appendices are available at



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The Effects of Malapportionment on Cabinet Inclusion: Subnational Evidence from India

  • Rikhil R. Bhavnani


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