Electoral politics and regional development: assessing the geographical allocation of public investment in Turkey
One of the most important decisions that governments face is how to allocate the public resources necessary for development, given each country’s budget constraints. According to the literature on the links between wealth and institutional performance, highly kleptocratic countries are expected to show higher levels of politicisation of the public purse. The article tests the extent to which socioeconomic criteria (equity and efficiency) or electoral concerns determined the geographical distribution of public investment in the 81 provinces of Turkey between 2004 and 2012. Our results show that, although electoral concerns mattered for the allocation, socioeconomic measures remained the most relevant predictors of investment. Moreover, in contrast to official regional development policy principles, the Turkish state tended to favour areas with a higher level of development over those with greater ‘socioeconomic need’. Our results therefore challenge much of the distributive politics literature, which has overly emphasised the role of pork-barrel in public policy-making. At the same time, they underline the need of paying more attention to the political economy of regional development strategies.
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