Fixing Market Failures or Fixing Elections? Agricultural Credit in India

Author: Shawn A. Cole

Abstract:

This paper integrates theories of political budget cycles with theories of tactical electoral redistribution to test for political capture in a novel way. Studying banks in India, I find that government-owned bank lending tracks the electoral cycle, with agricultural credit increasing by 5-10 percentage points in an election year. There is significant cross-sectional targeting, with large increases in districts in which the election is particularly close. This targeting does not occur in non-election years, or in private bank lending. I show capture is costly: elections affect loan repayment,and election year credit booms do not measurably affect agricultural output.

Click here to read more