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Clientelism and vote buying: lessons from field experiments in African elections

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  • Pedro C. Vicente
  • Leonard Wantchekon

Abstract

Electoral clientelism and vote buying are widely perceived as major obstacles to economic development. This is because they may limit the provision of public goods. In this paper, we review the literature on clientelism and vote buying and propose the use of field experiments to evaluate empirically the consequences of these phenomena. We provide an overview, discuss implementation, and interpret the main results of recent field experiments conducted by the authors in West African countries. Clientelism and vote buying seem to be effective and to enjoy widespread electoral support. The results suggest that increased access to information and political participation by women may limit clientelism. In addition, voter education campaigns may undermine the effects of vote buying on voting behaviour. We argue that our findings may inform the design of development aid interventions, as a way effectively to increase public-good political accountability. We also discuss directions for fruitful future research. Copyright 2009, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro C. Vicente & Leonard Wantchekon, 2009. "Clientelism and vote buying: lessons from field experiments in African elections," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 292-305, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:25:y:2009:i:2:p:292-305
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/oxrep/grp018
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrés Cendales, 2012. "Vote Buying, Political Patronage and Selective Plunder," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 49(2), pages 237-276, November.
    2. Asongu, Simplice & Nwachukwu, Jacinta, 2016. "Is the Threat of Foreign Aid Withdrawal an Effective Deterrent to Political Oppression? Evidence from 53 African Countries," MPRA Paper 74649, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Ana Silvia de Matos Vas, 2012. "Interpersonal Influence Regarding the Decision to Vote Within Mozambican Households," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2012-14, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    4. Khemani, Stuti, 2015. "Buying votes versus supplying public services: Political incentives to under-invest in pro-poor policies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 84-93.
    5. Anindya Bhattacharya & Anirban Kar & Alita Nandi, 2016. "Local institutional structure and clientelistic access to employment: the case of MGNREGS in three states of India," Working papers 269, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    6. Isaksson, Ann-Sofie & Bigsten, Arne, 2014. "Clientelism and ethnic divisions," Working Papers in Economics 598, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    7. Cendales, Andrés & Mora, Jhon & Arroyo, Santiago, 2015. "Sobre las democracias locales en el Pacífico colombiano y su incidencia en la política pública de agua potable en el periodo 2008-2011," REVISTA LECTURAS DE ECONOMÍA, UNIVERSIDAD DE ANTIOQUIA - CIE, issue 83, pages 161-192, February.
    8. Simplice Asongu & Mohamed Jellal, 2014. "Foreign aid, investment and fiscal policy behavior: theory and empirical evidence," Working Papers 14/030, African Governance and Development Institute..
    9. Roxana Gutiérrez-Romero, 2012. "An Inquiry into the Use of Illegal Electoral Practices and Effects of Political Violence," Working Papers wpdea1210, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    10. Marco Colagrossi & Domenico Rossignoli & Mario A. Maggioni, 2017. "Does democracy cause growth? A meta-analysis perspective," DISEIS - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo dis1703, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo (DISEIS).
    11. Pelle Ahlerup & Ann-Sofie Isaksson, 2015. "Ethno-Regional Favouritism in Sub-Saharan Africa," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 143-152, May.
    12. León, Gianmarco, 2017. "Turnout, political preferences and information: Experimental evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 56-71.
    13. Kent Eaton & Kai Kaiser & Paul J. Smoke, 2011. "The Political Economy of Decentralization Reforms : Implications for Aid Effectiveness," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2336.
    14. Ana Sílvia de Matos Vaz, 2012. "Interpersonal Influence Regarding the Decision to Vote Within Mozambican Households," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-14, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    15. Anindya Bhattacharya & Anirban Kar & Alita Nandi, 2016. "Local Institutional Structure and Clientelistic Access to Employment: The Case of MGNREGS in Three States of India," Working Papers id:11549, eSocialSciences.
    16. Asongu Simplice, 2014. "The Evolving Debate on the Effect of Foreign Aid on Corruption and Institutions in Africa," Working Papers 14/009, African Governance and Development Institute..
    17. Pellicer, Miquel & Wegner, Eva, 2013. "Electoral Rules and Clientelistic Parties: A Regression Discontinuity Approach," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 8(4), pages 339-371, October.
    18. Dragan Filipovich & Miguel Niño-Zarazúa & Alma Santillán Hernández, 2018. "Campaign externalities, programmatic spending, and voting preferences in rural Mexico: The case of Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera programme," WIDER Working Paper Series 027, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    19. repec:aea:aejapp:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:207-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Al-Ississ, Mohamad & Atallah, Samer, 2015. "Patronage and ideology in electoral behavior: Evidence from Egypt's first presidential elections," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 241-248.
    21. Xavier Giné & Ghazala Mansuri, 2018. "Together We Will: Experimental Evidence on Female Voting Behavior in Pakistan," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 207-235, January.
    22. Khemani, Stuti, 2013. "Buying votes vs. supplying public services : political incentives to under-invest in pro-poor policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6339, The World Bank.

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