How the content of demands shapes government responsiveness: theory and evidence from Mumbai

Date and Time

April 26, 2022

6:30 pm to 8:00 pm


Online via Zoom

Tanu Kumar

Postdoctoral Researcher, William & Mary Global Research Institute

The Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) invite you to a digital workshop on:

How the content of demands shapes government responsiveness: theory and evidence from Mumbai

The session will also be live-streamed on the CPR Facebook page.

About the Talk

When citizens lodge formal complaints with bureaucrats, how does the content of their demands shape government responsiveness? This paper distinguishes between complaints demanding the reallocation of resources between citizens and those that simply require some level of state capacity to address. Bureaucratic handlers are less likely to address reallocating demands because their resolution may generate new complaints by other citizens who lose out because their resources have been redistributed. Furthermore, communities with better services are more likely to make non-reallocating demands, and more responsiveness to these demands can encourage future complaint-making. When controlling for other channels of mediation and political influence, formal complaint institutions can generate a virtuous cycle of complaint-making and responsiveness, but only where levels of service provision are already high. The theory is supported using a differences-in-differences design, supervised learning for text classification, and original data on the universe of digital complaints in Mumbai’s water sector from 2016-2018.

About the Speaker

Tanu Kumar is a postdoctoral researcher at William & Mary. Starting July 2022, she will be an Assistant Professor at Claremont Graduate University. She studies urban politics and political behavior in India, and is working on a book exploring the role of subsidised homeownership in social mobility in low- and middle-income countries.

Find all the available videos of our previous workshops, here

This is the hundred and forty sixth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Aprajita Sarcar at of CSH, Mukta Naik at or Marie-Hélène Zerah at