Entry, Exit and Candidate Selection: Experimental Evidence from India

Increased voter awareness about the role of local government in providing social insurance influences candidate entry and exit in local elections. Our evidence comes from a pre-election voter awareness campaign field experiment in rural India. In treatment villages, worse-performing incumbents are less likely to run for re-election. While their family members seek to replace them, they fail to gain any incumbency-related advantage. Second, women and lower castes and citizens from poorer villages and villages with less social insurance take-up are more likely to enter as candidates and gain positive vote share. Third, the treatment-induced increase in female candidacy persists in the subsequent election cycle.

Written with Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo (both MIT) and Rohini Pande (Harvard University)