Elite groups vary in their needs and levels of power, thus wielding differing levels of influence on state policy
Why do some states provide infrastructure and social services to their citizens, and others do not? In Development in Multiple Dimensions, Alexander Lee examines the origins of success and failure in the public services of developing countries. Comparing states within India, this study examines how elites either control, or are shut out of, policy decisions and how the interests of these elites influence public policy. He shows that social inequalities are not single but multiple, creating groups of competing elites with divergent policy interests. Since the power of these elites varies, states do not necessarily focus on the same priorities: some focus on infrastructure, others on social services, and still others on both or neither. The author develops his ideas through quantitative comparisons and case studies focusing on four northern Indian states: Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, and Himachal Pradesh, each of which represents different types of political economy and has a different set of powerful caste groups. The evidence indicates that regional variation in India is a consequence of social differences, and the impact of these differences on carefully considered distributional strategies, rather than differences in ideology, geography, or institutions.
Alexander Lee is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester.
“In recent years there has been considerable interest in the diverging development trajectories of Indian states. Some states provide excellent roads, while others invest in education. Why do they provide such different public services or none at all? Unpacking the term development and looking at how power-dynamics differ across states, this book provides a compelling explanation for why such divergence takes place.”
—Francesca Refsum Jensenius, University of Oslo
“Lee provides scholars and policy specialists with a critical new understanding of how elites shape development choices. Using subnational quantitative and qualitative data from exemplary Indian states, he shows how variations in social inequality lead to variations in social and economic policy provision. Lee has given us a vital contribution to the study of the political economy of development.”
—Sunita Parikh, Washington University in St. Louis