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

with Selina Ho, Assistant Professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS

Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 18:30

Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop,

[18:15] Doors Open [18:30] Event Begins

Dr. Selina Ho will be speaking on her recently published book, Thirsty Cities: Social Contracts and Public Goods Provision in China and India (Cambridge University Press, 2019). Selina’s book is a comparative study of two rising Indo-Pacific powers, China and India, ability to provide public goods. In her book, Selina asks the question: 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, the provision of public goods in China and India contradict these findings. Whether in terms of access to education, healthcare, public transportation, or 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.

Book Review:

“This book wrestles intelligently with the puzzle of why an authoritarian regime, China, is more proficient at providing essential public goods than a robust democracy, India. This counter-intuitive outcome is the subject of this important work by Selina Ho. She highlights the crucial role of informal institutions and normative principles in explaining service provision as determinant rather than regime type or other factors. The work is essential reading for anyone interested in the relationship between the politics of welfare, regime type and public goods provision.”

Tony Saich – Daewoo Professor of International Affairs, Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School

About Selina Ho

Selina Ho is Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore (NUS). She specializes in Chinese politics and foreign policy, with a focus on water, infrastructure, and comparative politics.She is author of “Thirsty Cities: Social Contracts and Public Goods Provision in China and India “(Cambridge University Press) and co-author of “Rivers of Iron: High-speed Rail in Southeast Asia and China’s Quest for Power”, which is backed by the Smith Richardson Foundation. She was appointed Global Futures Council Fellow at the World Economic Forum and was a public servant in Singapore before joining academia.Selina received both her Ph.D. and Masters Degree from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, and her Undergraduate Degree from NUS.

Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop

The Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop is a concept store by Epigram Books and Huggs Coffee. It occupies a space of 980 square feet and is currently the only bookshop to offer only Singapore books. By that, they mean books about Singapore, books written by Singaporean authors or books published by Singaporean publishers.

Venue Details for Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop

Address: 45 Maxwell Road, #01-01.

Ticket fee: $8 for refreshments and drinks at the cafe (not inclusive of payment processor fees by Eventbrite)

YCW SG-Thirsty Cities: Social Contracts and Public Goods Provision in China and India by Dr. Selina Ho (Wed, 26 Jun)
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