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Examining a major road-building program in India, researchers at Princeton University and the Paris School of Economics used an innovative technique to show that political corruption increased the chances that roads meant to connect isolated areas to the rest of the country would never be built, even though the government had paid for them.
The study, published in the Journal of Development Economics, found that almost 500 all-weather roads listed in the road program's monitoring data as having been completed and paid for were never built. The researchers connected these "missing roads" to political corruption—specifically, to local politicians steering road contracts to favored businesses in their own social networks.
Results - Corruption - Program - Villagers - Roads
"Our results indicate that corruption in this program directly harmed the 857,000 villagers whom the missing roads were meant to serve," said study lead author Jacob N. Shapiro, professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is a vast public works program begun in 2000, when the Indian government estimated that more than 300,000 villages across the country weren't connected to the outside world by all-weather roads. The proposed new roads built under this program were intended to provide village residents with previously unavailable economic opportunities, and facilitate their access to government services such as education and health care. But if contractors took the money but failed to build the roads, those benefits would never materialize.
Effects - Corruption - Nature - Corruption - View
The detrimental effects of political corruption aren't easy to see or measure—by its very nature, corruption is usually hidden from view. To seek evidence of corruption, Shapiro and his colleagues looked at thousands of elections for local representatives to the state-level legislature, who are known as members of the legislative assembly, or MLAs. After such selections, they analyzed the degree to which road-building contracts shifted...
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