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The Political Economy of Clientelism

Author

Listed:
  • James A. Robinson

    (Harvard University [Cambridge])

  • Thierry Verdier

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

In this paper, we argue that the political-commitment problem provides an explanation for why much income redistribution takes an inefficient form, particularly employment in the public sector. A job is a credible way of redistributing when it provides rents (such as in situations with moral hazard), and employment is optimal ex post. Moreover, a job is selective and reversible, and thus ties the continuation utility of a voter to the political success of a particular politician. We show that the need to make offers of employment incentive-compatible leads to inefficiencies in the supply of public goods. We also show that such inefficient redistribution becomes relatively attractive in situations with high inequality and low productivity. Inefficiency is increased when the stakes from politics are high, when inequality is high, and when money matters less than ideology in politics.

Suggested Citation

  • James A. Robinson & Thierry Verdier, 2013. "The Political Economy of Clientelism," Post-Print halshs-00846558, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00846558
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00846558
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income redistribution; Political competition; Public policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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