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Fertilizer Subsidies and Voting Patterns: Political Economy Dimensions of Input Subsidy Programs


  • Mason, Nicole M.
  • Jayne, Thomas S.
  • Walle, Nicolas van de


Agricultural input subsidies often have implicit or explicit political economy objectives. Using panel data from Zambia, this article empirically tests whether election outcomes affect targeting of subsidized fertilizer and whether fertilizer subsidies win votes. Results suggest that the Zambian government allocated substantially more subsidized fertilizer to households in constituencies won by the ruling party in the last election, and more so the larger its margin of victory. However, past subsidized fertilizer allocations had no statistically significant effect on the share of votes won by the incumbent president. Rather, voters rewarded the incumbent for reductions in unemployment, poverty, and income inequality.

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  • Mason, Nicole M. & Jayne, Thomas S. & Walle, Nicolas van de, 2013. "Fertilizer Subsidies and Voting Patterns: Political Economy Dimensions of Input Subsidy Programs," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 149580, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:149580

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chibwana, Christopher & Fisher, Monica & Shively, Gerald, 2012. "Cropland Allocation Effects of Agricultural Input Subsidies in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 124-133.
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    6. Mason, Nicole M. & Ricker-Gilbert, Jacob, 2013. "Disrupting Demand for Commercial Seed: Input Subsidies in Malawi and Zambia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 75-91.
    7. Nicole M. Mason & Thomas S. Jayne, 2014. "Fertiliser subsidies and smallholder commercial fertiliser purchases: crowding out, leakage, and policy implications for Zambia," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 527-528, June.
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    12. Cerda, Rodrigo & Vergara, Rodrigo, 2008. "Government Subsidies and Presidential Election Outcomes: Evidence for a Developing Country," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 2470-2488, November.
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    14. Banful, Afua Branoah, 2011. "Old Problems in the New Solutions? Politically Motivated Allocation of Program Benefits and the "New" Fertilizer Subsidies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 1166-1176, July.
    15. Jacob Ricker-Gilbert & Thomas Jayne & Gerald Shively, 2013. "Addressing the 'Wicked Problem' of Input Subsidy Programs in Africa," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 35(2), pages 322-340.
    16. Jacob Ricker-Gilbert & Thomas S. Jayne & Ephraim Chirwa, 2010. "Subsidies and Crowding Out: A Double-Hurdle Model of Fertilizer Demand in Malawi," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(1), pages 26-42.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sheahan, Megan & Olwande, John & Kirimi, Lilian & Jayne, Thom S., 2014. "Targeting of Subsidized Fertilizer Under Kenya's National Accelerated Agricultural Input Access Program (NAAIAP)," Working Papers 202590, Egerton University, Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.
    2. Mason, Nicole & Tembo, Solomon, 2015. "Do Input Subsidies reduce Poverty among Smallholder Farm Households? Panel Survey Evidence from Zambia," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212232, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. 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.
    4. Takeshima, Hiroyuki & Liverpool-Tasie, Lenis Saweda O., 2015. "Fertilizer subsidies, political influence and local food prices in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Nigeria," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 11-24.
    5. Mason, Nicole & Tembo, Solomon, 2015. "Do Input Subsidies Reduce Poverty among Smallholder Farm Households? Panel Survey Evidence from Zambia," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212448, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. Levine, N. Kendra & Mason, Nicole M. & Morgan, Stephen N., 2016. "Do input subsidies crowd in or crowd out other soil fertility management practices? Panel survey evidence from Zambia," 2016 AAAE Fifth International Conference, September 23-26, 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 246393, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    7. Mason, Nicole & Tembo, Solomon, 2015. "Do input Subsidies Reduce Poverty among Smallholder Farm Households? Panel Survey Evidence from Zambia," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212233, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Mason, Nicole M. & Jayne, T.S. & Mofya-Mukuka, Rhoda, 2013. "A Review of Zambia’s Agricultural Input Subsidy Programs: Targeting, Impacts, and the Way Forward," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 162438, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    9. Gisselquist, Rachel M. & Leiderer, Stefan & Niño-Zarazúa, Miguel, 2016. "Ethnic Heterogeneity and Public Goods Provision in Zambia: Evidence of a Subnational “Diversity Dividend”," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 308-323.
    10. Resnick, Danielle & Thurlow, James, 2014. "The political economy of Zambia’s recovery: Structural change without transformation?:," IFPRI discussion papers 1320, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item


    fertilizer subsidies; political economy; voting patterns; election outcomes; fractional response; Zambia; sub-Saharan Africa; Agricultural and Food Policy; International Development; Political Economy; P16; D7; H2; H4; Q18;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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