Technological Change and Political Turnover: The Democratizing Effects of the Green Revolution in India
by Aditya Dasgupta,University of California
Can technological change contribute to political turnover? Influential theories suggest that technological change represents a form of creative destruction that can weaken incumbents and strengthen outsiders, leading to political turnover. This paper investigates a large-scale historical natural experiment: the impact of the green revolution on single-party dominance in India. Drawing on a theoretical framework based on models of contests, this paper argues that high-yielding variety (HYV) crops strengthened the incentives and capacity of a politically excluded group, in this case agricultural producers, to seek greater political representation. Exploiting the timing of the introduction of HYV crops, together with district-level variation in suitability for the new crop technology, instrumental variables analyses show that the green revolution played a pivotal role in the rise of agrarian opposition parties and decline of single-party dominance. The findings support theories linking technological change to political turnover, with important implications for the political economy of democratization.