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One Mandarin Benefits the Whole Clan: Hometown Infrastructure and Nepotism in an Autocracy

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  • Kieu-Trang Nguyen

    ()
    (SPEA, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47401, U.S.A)

  • Quoc-Anh Do

    ()
    (School of Economics, Singapore Management University, Singapore 178903)

  • Anh Tran

    ()
    (SPEA, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47401, U.S.A)

Abstract

This paper studies nepotism by government officials in an authoritarian regime. We collect a unique dataset of political promotions of officials in Vietnam and estimate their impact on public infrastructure in their hometowns. We find strong positive effects on several outcomes, some with lags, including roads to villages, marketplaces, clean water access, preschools, irrigation, and local radio broadcasters, as well as the hometown’s propensity to benefit from the State’s “poor commune support program”. Nepotism is not limited to only top-level officials, pervasive even among those without direct authority over hometown budgets, stronger when the hometown chairperson’s and promoted official’s ages are closer, and where provincial leadership has more discretionary power in shaping policies, suggesting that nepotism works through informal channels based on specific political power and environment. Contrary to pork barrel politics in democratic parliaments, members of the Vietnamese legislative body have little influence on infrastructure investments for their hometowns. Given the top-down nature of political promotions, officials arguably do not help their tiny communes in exchange for political support. Consistent with that, officials favor only their home commune and ignore their home district, which could offer larger political support. These findings suggest that nepotism is motivated by officials’ social preferences directed towards their related circles, and signals an additional form of corruption that may prevail in developing countries with low transparency.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Singapore Management University, School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 18-2011.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in SMU Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:siu:wpaper:18-2011

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Keywords: nepotism; infrastructure construction; official’s hometown; political connection; political promotion; social preference; directed altruism;

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  1. Quoc-Anh Do & Yen-Teik Lee & Bang Dang Nguyen & Kieu-Trang Nguyen, 2012. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Value of Political Connections in Social Networks," Working Papers 22-2012, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.
  2. Keefer, Philip & Khemani, Stuti, 2009. "When do Legislators pass on"Pork"? the determinants of legislator utilization of a constituency development fund in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4929, The World Bank.
  3. Luo, Renfu & Zhang, Linxiu & Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott, 2009. "Village Elections, Public Goods Investments and Pork Barrel Politics, Chinese-style," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 50143, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  4. Deininger, Klaus & Jin, Songqing & Nagarajan, Hari K., 2008. "Efficiency and equity impacts of rural land rental restrictions: Evidence from India," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(5), pages 892-918, July.
  5. Banerjee, Abhijit & Somanathan, Rohini, 2007. "The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 287-314, March.
  6. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2007. "Just rewards? Local politics and public resource allocation in South India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3763, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Khemani, Stuti, 2010. "Political economy of infrastructure spending in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5423, The World Bank.
  8. Finn Tarp & Thomas Markussen, 2011. "Political Connections and Investment in Rural Vietnam," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Working Paper W, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  9. Gajwani, Kiran & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2008. "Gender, caste, and public goods provision in Indian village governments:," IFPRI discussion papers 807, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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