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Iyer, S. and Shrivastava, A.

Religious Riots and Electoral Politics in India

Journal of Development Economics

Vol. 131 pp. 104-122 (2018)

Abstract: We study the effect of Hindu-Muslim riots on election results in India. We combine data on geo-coded riots with data on state elections and on demographics and public goods provision to construct a unique panel data set for 16 large states in India from 1981 to 2001. A new instrument is used that draws upon the random variation in the day of the week that Hindu festivals fall on, as set by a lunar calendar. The probability of a riot increases if a Hindu festival falls on a Friday, the holy day for Muslims. This allows us to isolate the causal effect of riots on electoral results. The results are also corrected for under-reporting of riots and their effect on nearby districts. We find that riots occurring in the year preceding an election increase the vote share of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party by at least 5 percentage points.

Keywords: Religion, Political Economy, Riots, Elections, India

JEL Codes: D72, D74, Z12

Author links: Sriya Iyer  

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Cambridge-INET Working Paper Version of Paper: Religious Riots and Electoral Politics in India, Iyer, S. and Shrivastava, A., (2015)