Watson Institute for International Studies

Rajiv Sethi ─ Identity Politics and Public Goods

Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

Rajiv Sethi will discuss a paper that presents a model in which identity groups are distributed across geographical locations and public goods are local and non-excludable within them. Given a distribution of the population across locations, the authors characterize the allocation of resources that maximizes the social benefit from public goods for a fixed budget. They then compare this with the allocation that arises when an elite group controls the public purse and cares only about the welfare of its members. The paper seeks to understand how public good access and the mobility of disadvantaged groups is influenced by the size and composition of the communities in which they reside. As an application, data from the Census of India is used to examine whether the differential mobility of disadvantaged castes and tribes can be explained by their exposure to more powerful groups in ways predicted by the model.

Rajiv Sethi is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Economics at Barnard College.

Development and Governance Seminar