Thirsty Cities: Social Contracts and Public Goods Provision in China and India

Selina Ho

Venue: Room 309, 1555 Century Avenue, NYU Shanghai
Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Time: 17:00 - 19:00 CST

Why does authoritarian China provide a higher level of public goods than democratic India? Studies based on regime type have shown that the level of public goods provision is higher in democratic systems than in authoritarian forms of government. However, public goods provision in China and India contradicts these findings. Whether in terms of access to education, healthcare, public transportation, and basic necessities, such as drinking water and electricity, China does consistently better than India. This book argues that regime type does not determine public goods outcomes. Using empirical evidence from the Chinese and Indian municipal water sectors, the study explains and demonstrates how a social contract, an informal institution, influences formal institutional design, which in turn accounts for the variations in public goods provision.

Selina Ho is Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. Prior to join the Lee Kuan Yew School, she was a Global Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University Shanghai (2013-2014). Selina specializes in Chinese politics and foreign policy, with a focus on the politics of water and infrastructure. She is the author of Thirsty Cities: Social Contracts and Public Goods Provision in China and India (Cambridge University Press, 2019). She is currently working on a co-authored book manuscript, Rivers of Iron: High-speed Rail in Southeast Asia and China’s Quest for Power, which is funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation. Selina has also published several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on China’s international rivers. Her publications list and the courses she teaches can be found on her webpage: https://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/our-people/faculty/selina-ho.

Selina completed her Ph.D. at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, where she also received a Masters in International Public Policy (Honors). She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a B.A. in History (Honors). She was a Singapore public servant before joining academia.

Introduction and moderation of the Q&A by Tansen Sen, Director of the Center for Global Asia and Professor of History, NYU Shanghai.

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