Conference Paper: Public Goods and Public Trust in Government: Evidence from India

Abstract: In modern liberal democracies, the relationship between citizens and their governments is influenced by myriad factors that shape how citizens perceive the state as well as the act of governance itself. One of the ways governments might try to gain favor with their citizens is the provision of public goods, which is considered economically efficient as well as morally necessary (Anomaly 2015). Despite huge public expenditure on services such as healthcare, education, sanitation, electricity and water supply, we know very little about whether access to public goods leads to public trust in government. Such a connection is logical — the provision of public goods is an important aspect of ‘good governance’. I test this assumption in India, a highly diverse liberal democracy that is characterized by socio-economic variations between states as well as huge disparities in income and access to basic services, where the provision of such services by the government can influence public confidence or trust in the government. I define provision in terms of availability of basic public goods to households at the state level in India, and drawing on earlier work I measure public trust in terms of the confidence people have in their state governments in India to take care of their basic needs. Using cross-sectional survey data, I show not only that the provision of public goods is associated with increased trust or confidence in state governments, but that access to health, education, sanitation and water supply are the most important such public goods. The findings have the potential to inform policy choices about the provision of public service programs in India as well a broader understanding of the relationship between public services and trust in government.

Paper presented at the AU Tri-School Conference, 5th March 2021

Paper accepted for the 5th International Conference on Public Policy (ICPP5) to be held July 5th-9th in Barcelona, Spain.

Paper accepted for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) to be held September 30th – October 2nd in Seattle, Washington, USA.

In Progress: Child Mortality in the Developing World: An Analysis of Millennium Development Goal 4 between 2000-2015

Abstract: The global burden of child mortality represents one of the most critical development challenges facing low- and middle-income countries today. In 2018, UNICEF reported that over 80% of child deaths happened in the first five years of life regardless of mortality level. Since 1990, under-five child mortality rates have declined at a steady pace, reaching a global average of 57 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015, which is still above the targets set under Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce child mortality globally by two-thirds. The aim of this paper is to explain variation in under-five child mortality within low- and middle-income countries from 2000-2015, with a focus on two key variables that measure policy commitment: ratification of the ILO Maternity Convention 2000 and explicit protection of the right to food. Using a panel regression analysis, I find that countries that do not protect the right to food in their constitutions have child mortality rates that are on average 4 deaths per 1,000 live births higher than in countries with such protections. Income, official development assistance, urbanization, domestic health expenditure, armed conflict, female literacy, malnutrition and immunization are also found to be significant predictors of child mortality. The findings indicate the need for further research on how to better understand the relationship between food security policies and child mortality.

Paper presented at the AU Tri-School Conference, 21st February 2020

Paper accepted for the Second International Workshop on Public Policy (IWPP2), originally scheduled to be held in Quito, Ecuador in July 2020 (cancelled due to COVID-19)

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