This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, February 17, 2024. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


On Thursday, a few months ahead of nationwide elections, India’s Supreme Court banned electoral bonds—anonymous political donations sold by the State Bank of India. Since the Modi government introduced electoral bonds in 2017, more than $1.9 billion in secret donations have been distributed to political parties. 

In a 2022 analysis, the Association for Democratic Reforms finds that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the scheme’s largest beneficiary from 2017 to 2021: 

“As per the annual audit report of BJP submitted with the Election Commission, the party had received Rs 210 crore worth of contributions in the form of electoral bonds for FY 2017-18. This was a whopping 95% of all the electoral bonds purchased in 2017-18. For FY 2018-19, BJP had received Rs 1450.89 cr worth electoral bonds and Indian National Congress had received Rs 383.26 cr worth electoral bonds. The BJP has redeemed Rs 4230 cr worth electoral bonds from 2017-18 to 2020-21, which is 65% of the total amount during these years. This is nearly six times that of second placed Indian National Congress, which has redeemed Rs 716 crores til 2020-21. The two regional parties of Biju Janata Dal & Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party occupy the next two places followed by Trinamool Congress. Given the anonymity provided to donors and political parties by the electoral bonds scheme, it has emerged as the most popular mode of donations to political parties for FY 2019-20. More than 62% of the total income of seven National Parties came from Donations through Electoral Bonds (Rs 2993.826 cr).”

+  “The 2019 general (Parliamentary) election in India emerges to be the most expensive election ever, anywhere.” The Centre for Media Studies’ report on India’s first general elections following the 2017 campaign finance reforms. Link. And Aseema Sinha and Andrew Wyatt examine industrialist interests in Parliament after 2019. Link

+  “Not only did the government dismiss the Reserve Bank of India’s initial objections to electoral bonds, it also ignored most of the bank’s subsequent suggestions to make the scheme less vulnerable to fraud and less prone to destabilising the Indian currency.” From the first installment of Nitin Sethi’s ten-part investigation into the scheme, based on Right to Information appeals. Link to the piece, link to the series. 

+  “The banning of company donations in 1969—without adequately substituting for it with public funding—was a key moment in the path-dependent evolution of political finance because it strengthened ties between political parties and the black economy.” Milan Vaishnav and Devesh Kapur’s 2018 book on the history of political finance in India. Link


Conditional Cash Transfers in Peru

HA LUONG is a PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Barcelona. Her job market paper studies how conditional cash transfers shape gender role attitudes in Peru. 

From the abstract:

“This paper explores the impact of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs on children’s gender role attitudes, with a focus on Juntos, the largest CCT program in Peru. Using data from the Young Lives Survey and employing the fuzzy regression discontinuity design, I find that the program reinforces traditional gender role attitudes among children in beneficiary households. These attitudes align notably with children’s behaviors, particularly among girls. Beneficiary girls allocate more daily time to caregiving and unpaid household labor, which, in turn, is associated with their lower test scores in reading and mathematics. Investigating potential mechanisms reveals that beneficiary mothers are more likely to prioritize their time on home production over paid work or self-employment. This shift in mother’s time priority serves as a channel for perpetuating traditional gender role attitudes among children. By offering novel insights into the impact of social policies in a developing context, this paper contributes to our understanding of the complex relationship between policies and gender norms.”

+ + +

+   “With much of the media attention on the Houthis, little has been said about Ethiopia’s renewed interest in securing Red Sea access.” New on PW, Kaleb Demerew on the history of Red Sea power struggles. Link.

+   The Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), a climate finance framework endorsed by world leaders, struggles to raise capital. Link. And a JETP report from the Rockefeller Center on addressing finance gaps for developing countries. Link.

+   A decomposition on the rise of the populist radical right in Europe shows evidence of voters prioritizing nativist cultural positions. By Oren Danieli, Noam Gidron, Shinnosuke Kikuchi, and Ro’ee Levy. Link.

+   “The marginal cost debate served as part of the foundation for various fields of modern economics, particularly institutional, regulatory, and public choice economics as well as law and economics.” By Brett M. Frischmann and Christiaan Hogendorn. Link

+   “In 2011, the major German electricity-producing utilities faced an existential crisis: a sudden and unexpected volte-face on nuclear power regulation.” Gregory Ferguson-Cradler on “transition risk.” Link

+   Ron Boschma, Ernest Miguelez, Rosina Moreno, and Diego B. Ocampo-Corrales on technological breakthroughs in Europe from 1981 to 2010. Link.

+   “Exports as a share of GDP have constantly risen to become the most important growth engine in the Korean economy. This long-term trend, however, has coincided with a decline in the labor income share.” By Tanadej Pete Vechsuruck. Link. And see Kang-Kook Lee’s recent PW essay on South Korean growth models. Link

+   Katherine Walla on US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s plan to set AI standards in an effort to compete with China’s high-tech manufacturing investments. Link.

+   “A nationalist class conscious tradition stemming mainly from the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1914 survived and even thrived among Mexicans in Los Angeles. This tradition derived from the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM). Many of the PLM members who fought in support of the revolution in northern Mexico belonged to the IWW and often PLM members organized Mexican workers for the IWW. In its Fresno Local 66 during 1909 and 1910 the IWW, for example, while unable to create an ongoing union, organized many Mexican migratory agricultural and railroad workers. The famous Frank Little headed the Fresno organizational efforts and the Mexican IWW organizer, Jesús González-Monroy, was also a PLM leader. In Los Angeles in 1910-1911, the IWW exerted influence in strikes of Mexican street railway and gas workers.” By Douglas Monroy. Link.

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