Party Systems and Public Goods

Understanding when governments provide public goods to their citizens is among the most important projects in political science and one institution that seems to be highly influential in this regard, particularly in parliamentary democracies, is the party system. The talk focused on two key elements of party systems-the effective number of parties and electoral volatility. The contention is that intermediate levels of party system size and stability are ideal for public goods provision; when these levels are too low, the system is not competitive enough to incentivize service provision, but when they are too high, the system is too fragmented and unstable to produce long-run beneficial outcomes.

The speaker argues that the best outcomes will be observed, when the benefits of competition are balanced against the risks of fragmentation and instability. The argument will be put to test in the talk with a panel model of public goods provision in 29 Indian states and territories, measured by education spending, social financing, food grain distribution, and revenue accumulation.

Charles R. Hankla is associate professor of political science at Georgia State University in Atlanta.  He received his PhD in 2005 from Emory University, and also holds degrees from Georgetown University and the London School of Economics.  In the spring and summer of 2013, he was a visiting scholar at Sciences Po Lille in France.

His research is in the fields of comparative and international political economy with a particular interest in political institutions, budgeting, trade policy, and industrial policy. It includes cross-national, quantitative studies and also field-work based analyses of India and France.  His research work has been published in journals like the American Political Science ReviewInternational Studies QuarterlyComparative Political StudiesComparative Politics, and Publius.

Peter Ronald deSouza is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Monday, 27 July 2015
4 pm, CSDS Seminar Room