Governance and Political Economy

The unintended consequences of accountability: Quasi-experimental evidence from policing in Pakistan

Project members:
Principal Investigator: Hamna Ahmed, Lahore School of Economics
Co-Principal Investigators: Dareen Latif, Lahore School of Economics
Kate Vyborny, Duke University

This study investigates how political influences affect the response to crime using microdata from over 1 million complaints logged by police in Lahore, Pakistan. We test how political alignment with the party in power affects the recording of and response to crime. To identify effects, we exploit variation in political alignment over an election cycle when the party in power at the national level changed. We find that political alignment robustly decreases the seriousness with which police respond to citizen complaints.  Alignment with the governing party reduces the number of complaints logged and shifts the composition of complaints from criminal reports to non-criminal loss reports.  We rule out the possibility that the results are explained by better crime prevention or reduced crime: logged complaints are less likely to be pursued, and response times do not change.