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Can Political Alignment be Costly?

Research on the benefits of political alignment suggests that voters who elect governing party politicians are better off than those who elect other politicians. We examine this claim with regression discontinuity designs that isolate the effect of electing a governing party politician on an important publicly provided service in Pakistan: health. Consistent with existing research, governing party constituents receive a higher quantity of services: more doctors are assigned to work in governing party areas. However, despite many more assigned doctors, there is no increase in doctor attendance. These findings contrast with the literature on political alignment by showing that alignment to the governing party affects voters' welfare ambiguously: higher potential quantity of services may come at the cost of lower quality.

1034wp.pdf (2.44 MB)
Michael Callen
Saad Gulzar
Arman Rezaee
Publication Date
February, 2018