Look Who’s Watching: Observer effects in public opinion research with Irfan Nooruddin. Under Review at the Journal of Politics
Powering through – political uncertainty in hybrid service delivery regimes
A major challenge in studying distributive politics is that distributive outcomes – for example, the provision of public goods – is both politically determined, and politically consequential. But what happens when political actors lose some or all influence over the provision of a particular public good? Does politics remain consequential for service delivery? Taking advantage of the liberalization of electricity in the megacity of Karachi, Pakistan, and local government elections in 2015 in the city, I demonstrate first that political outcomes have significant service delivery effects. I find that more competitive constituencies tend to have better quality of electricity measured over two time intervals. Second, using a unique dataset of over 25,000 service delivery clusters, I examine close races within Karachi’s six districts, comparing narrow wins and narrow losses for the dominant political parties. I find highly significant results that vary by District. I suggest that the absence of political influence in one outcome does not preclude spheres of political influence in other dimensions. Using qualitative data and an original survey (N=1000), I show that ‘hybrid regimes’ of service delivery heighten uncertainty around political accountability.