We study whether in single-member-district legislative systems, powerful politicians engage in political favoritism towards their constituents. The focus is on the chief ministers of Indian state governments. Using night light intensity as a measure of economic activity, we find that a constituency represented by a sitting chief minister exhibits about 13 percentage increase in luminosity relative to all other constituencies. The effect comes predominantly from the cases where the chief minister's constituency lies outside their birth region. Neighboring constituencies, particularly those with strategic political value, also benefit from this windfall, suggesting the mechanism at play is likely to be political expediency rather than in-group favoritism.
- Distributive politics
- Ethnic favoritism