Changes in subjective wellbeing, affluence and trust in the police in India

Vani S. Kulkarni, Veena S. Kulkarni, Katsushi S. Imai and Raghav Gaiha


This paper examines whether trust in the police is associated with perceived changes in the subjective wellbeing of household heads between 2005 and 2012. It draws upon data from India’s unique household panel dataset covering the entire nation, the India Human Development Survey. The study confirms that trust in the police positively affects the change in subjective wellbeing, using 2SLS and Lewbel IV models to partially address the endogeneity of trust in the police with an external instrument, the number of occasions of police opening fire on civilians, as well as internally generated instruments. We discuss our key econometric findings in the context of the present political regime, the National Democratic Alliance, and argue that there has been a strengthening of an unholy nexus between the police and corrupt politicians as well as the judiciary. This has led to extreme brutality and extrajudicial killings in pursuit of Hindutva, making Muslims and lower caste Hindus the worst victims. This nexus makes police reforms daunting.


Subjective wellbeing, trust, police, incompetence, corruption, reforms, India

View/Download options

You will need a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat (downloadable from Adobe) to view PDF file(s). PDF files open in a new window.