The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Electoral Handouts in Mumbai Elections

The Cost of Political Competition
Faculty Scholarship
May 14, 2018
Assistant Professor, Department of Government, Dartmouth College

Bibliographic Reference

SIMON CHAUCHARD is an Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA. He is the author of Why Representation Matters: The Meaning of Ethnic Quotas in Rural India (Cambridge University Press, 2017). He thanks Francisco Cantu, Lisa Björkman, Milan Vaishnav, Kaushik Koli, and Hanmant Wanole, as well as participants in seminars at CASI (Penn), Dartmouth College, and the MPSA and APSA annual meetings, for useful comments on this paper. Email: <>.

Executive Summary

Asian Survey, Vol. 58, Number 2, pp. 341-364

Author:  Simon Chauchard

Why do candidates give voters handouts during political campaigns? Drawing on qualitative data from Mumbai, this article argues that competitive elections prompt candidates to distribute handouts for strategic reasons. While they know handouts to be inefficient, candidates face a prisoner’s dilemma. Fearing that their opponents will distribute handouts, they distribute them themselves to counter, or neutralize, their opponents’ strategies.


Rockefeller Center Faculty Grant Proposal: Why do Thugs Win Elections? A Vignette-Experiment in North India

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences