Social Accountability and Minority Status: Contributions to Public Goods by Hindus and Muslims in Delhi Slums

The communities we study frequently have issues with drainage, as seen in these photos.


How does social status affect contributions to local public goods? Based on an original survey experiment and qualitative research in slums in Delhi, we examine how persecuted minorities respond to social accountability aimed at promoting cooperation around community sanitation. While mainstream theories of diversity and public goods provision would predict greater willingness to cooperate in majority Hindu and Muslim neighborhoods, we find that mechanisms of social accountability are more effective among Muslims across the board, a group that routinely faces discrimination and violence in India. We propose that this reflects defensive cooperation, or a set of coping strategies in a hostile sociopolitical environment. Muslims with stronger ingroup ties, who are more likely to have developed the social technologies required to promote cooperative behavior, largely drive the effects. Our findings point to a new mechanism that helps to enforce social norms and, hence, public goods provision—the role of minority status.

R&R at Comparative Political Studies
David Romney
David Romney
Assistant Professor

Studying ethnic politics and conspiracy theories in the MENA and SE Asia regions.