BISP and Voting Behaviour
Cash transfer programs are a popular tool used in many developing countries to fight poverty. These have been subject to many studies and evaluations, and have an evidence base that is arguably one of the highest among poverty reduction tools. Evaluations of cash transfer programs in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America have shown that such programs have a wide variety of impacts such as improvements in child health (Duflo, 2003), increase in child schooling (Edmonds, 2006; Baird, McIntosh and Özler, 2011), and improvements in household income (Attanasio and Mesnard, 2006; Conover et al., 2018). Evidence also shows that such programs can have substantial impacts on voting behavior bringing about higher voter turnout and more votes for the incumbent party that introduces the program (Baez et al., 2012).
Using privately collected survey data and matching it with administrative data, this report studies impacts of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), a nation-wide cash transfer program in Pakistan, on voting outcomes for a representative sample of households in South Punjab. I leverage the proxy means testing targeting approach of the program and use the cut-off in poverty scores for eligibility requirement to employ a Regression Discontinuity empirical strategy. Results on voting behavior support evidence from other contexts that program beneficiaries have higher voter turnout and are more likely to vote for the incumbent party that introduced the program.
This remainder of this report is organized as follows… Section 2 provides political context and background on BISP, section 3 gives an overview of the data used for the analysis. Section 4 and 5 provide the empirical strategy and results respectively. Section 6 concludes.
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Doctoral Candidate of Economics at University of California, San Diego