Bureaucratic representation and state responsiveness during crises


Published 05.10.22

Bureaucratic representation in the Indian civil service lowered mortality rates during the 1918 influenza pandemic

Read “Bureaucratic Representation and State Responsiveness during Times of Crisis: The 1918 Pandemic in India” by Guo Xu here.

Understanding how effective public organisations can be built can increase the resilience of governments in developing countries to shocks. In this VoxDevTalk, Guo Xu joins us to discuss his research using archival data from colonial India, in which he explores the importance of a public organisation’s composition reflecting the population it serves. By exploiting the rotation of senior colonial officers, and using cross-border comparisons, this reveals that towns headed by Indian (as opposed to British) district officers experienced 15 percentage points lower death rates during the 1918 Influenza pandemic.