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Targeted Government Spending and Political Preferences


  • Pop-Eleches, Cristian
  • Pop-Eleches, Grigore


This article addresses the question of whether incumbents can buy political support through targeted public spending. Using a regression discontinuity approach which takes advantage of the design of a recent Romanian government program that distributed coupons worth 200 Euros to poor families towards the purchase of a computer, we find that program beneficiaries were significantly more likely to support the parties of the incumbent governing coalition. These effects occurred both through higher political mobilization and through party-switching. The article also analyzes the drivers of such political gains and we find that program beneficiaries did not trust either the central government or the governing parties any more than the control group. Instead, it appears that local governments reaped the benefits of increased trust, and the political support for incumbent parties occurred mostly in towns where the local government was controlled by one of the parties of the national ruling coalition.

Suggested Citation

  • Pop-Eleches, Cristian & Pop-Eleches, Grigore, 2012. "Targeted Government Spending and Political Preferences," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 7(3), pages 285-320, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00011017
    DOI: 10.1561/100.00011017

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    Cited by:

    1. Lehmann, M. Christian & Matarazzo, Hellen, 2019. "Voters’ response to in-kind transfers: Quasi-experimental evidence from prescription drug cost-sharing in Brazil," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    2. Raymond P. Guiteras & Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, 2015. "Does Development Aid Undermine Political Accountability? Leader and Constituent Responses to a Large-Scale Intervention," NBER Working Papers 21434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Yashodhan Ghorpade & Patricia Justino, 2019. "Winning or buying hearts and minds?: Cash transfers and political attitudes in Pakistan," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-91, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães, 2018. "Procedural Fairness, the Economy, and Support for Political Authorities (Forthcoming at Political Psychology (submitted pre-print version))," NIPE Working Papers 05/2018, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    5. Carozzi, Felipe & Repetto, Luca, 2019. "Distributive politics inside the city? The political economy of Spain's Plan E," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 85-106.
    6. Dionne, Kim Yi & Horowitz, Jeremy, 2016. "The Political Effects of Agricultural Subsidies in Africa: Evidence from Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 215-226.
    7. Blattman, Christopher & Emeriau, Mathilde & Fiala, Nathan, 2018. "Do anti-poverty programs sway voters? Experimental evidence from Uganda," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 101663, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Tarık ILIMAN & Recep TEKELİ, 2016. "Political Economy of Poverty in Turkey," Sosyoekonomi Journal, Sosyoekonomi Society, issue 24(29).
    9. Johannes Meya & Panu Poutvaara & Robert Schwager, 2015. "Pocketbook Voting and Social Preferences in Referenda," CESifo Working Paper Series 5267, CESifo.
    10. Patricia Justino & Bruno Martorano, 2016. "Redistribution, inequality and political participation: Evidence from Mexico during the 2008 financial crisis," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2016-140, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. Oana Borcan, 2016. "The illicit beneficts of local party alignment in national elections," University of East Anglia School of Economics Working Paper Series 2016-10, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    12. Elinder, Mikael & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2015. "Promises, policies and pocketbook voting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 177-194.
    13. Attanasio, Orazio & Polania-Reyes, Sandra & Pellerano, Luca, 2015. "Building social capital: Conditional cash transfers and cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 22-39.
    14. Patricia Justino & Bruno Martorano, 2016. "Redistribution, inequality and political participation: Evidence from Mexico during the 2008 financial crisis," WIDER Working Paper Series 140, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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