I combine personnel records with vital statistics for 1910 to 1925 to study how bureaucratic representation affected mortality in 1,271 Indian towns during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Exploiting the rotation of senior colonial officers across districts and a cross-border comparison, towns headed by Indian (as opposed to British) district officers experienced 15 percentage points lower deaths. The lower mortality effects extended beyond the urban areas and coincided with greater responsiveness in relief provision. Bureaucratic representation can thus be a powerful way to increase state responsiveness during times of crisis.

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