In contrast, I demonstrate that high-level legislators in India and other contexts often provide direct, non-partisan assistance to individual constituents. Under what conditions do they provide constituency service, rather than engage in partisan bias? I show that the uneven character of access to services at the local level—often due to biased allocation on the part of local intermediaries—generates demand for help from higher-level officials, and also creates incentives for those politicians to bypass intermediaries by providing direct assistance. These findings highlight the potential for an under appreciated form of democratic accountability, one that is however rooted in the character of patronage-based politics.
Jennifer Bussell is a political scientist with an interest in comparative politics and the political economy of development and governance, principally in South Asia and Africa. Her research considers the effects of formal and informal institutions—such as corruption, coalition politics, and federalism—on policy outcomes. Her book Corruption and Reform In India: Public Services in the Digital Age (Cambridge University Press) examines the role of corrupt practices in shaping government adoption of information technology across sub-national regions and is based on fieldwork in sixteen Indian states, as well as parts of South Africa and Brazil. Her current research uses elite and citizen surveys, interviews, and experiments to further explore the dynamics of corruption and citizen-state relations as they relate to public service delivery in democratic states. She also studies the politics of disaster management policies in developing countries. Her work has been published in Comparative Political Studies, International Studies Quarterly, and Economic and Political Weekly. Prior to joining the Goldman School, she taught in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.