Stabbed in the Back? Mandated Political Representation and Murders

Victoire Girard

Nova School of Business and Economics and NOVAFRICA

ISSN 2183-0843
Working Paper No 2005
June 2020


This paper provides the first country-wide evidence that an affirmative action policy may induce a backlash. I exploit the timing of the implementation of caste-based electoral quotas across and within the states of India. The results show that the implementation of the electoral quotas coincides with an increase in the number of murders targeting members of the lower castes. The analysis of these administrative crime data is backed up by the complementary analysis of a nationally representative household survey. Households’ answers reveal an increase in inter-caste tensions and discrimination during the operation of caste quotas. The results are consistent with a backlash against electoral quotas (due to sabotage or retaliation), and inconsistent with other interpretations (such as empowerment).

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