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Experiments on Clientelism and Vote Buying


  • Gallego, Jorge
  • Wantchekon, Leonard


In this paper, we present a critical survey of experiments on political clientelism and vote-buying. We claim that through randomization and control, field experiments represent an important tool for answering causal questions, whereas list experiments provide useful methods that improve the hard task of measuring clientelism. We show that existing experimental research gives answers to the questions of why clientelism is effective for getting votes and winning elections, who relies more on this strategy – incumbents or challengers – how much clientelism takes place, and who tend to be the favorite targets of clientelistic politicians. The relationship between clientelism and other illicit strategies for getting votes, such as electoral violence and fraud, has also been analyzed through experimental interventions. Experiments have also studied mechanisms and policies for overcoming clientelism. Finally, we show that external validity is a major source of concern that affects this burgeoning literature

Suggested Citation

  • Gallego, Jorge & Wantchekon, Leonard, 2012. "Experiments on Clientelism and Vote Buying," MPRA Paper 97060, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:97060

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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 and Oxford Review of Economic Policy Limited, vol. 25(2), pages 292-305, Summer.
    2. Corstange, Daniel, 2009. "Sensitive Questions, Truthful Answers? Modeling the List Experiment with LISTIT," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 45-63, January.
    3. Lemarchand, René, 1972. "Political Clientelism and Ethnicity in Tropical Africa:* Competing Solidarities in Nation-Building," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 68-90, March.
    4. Stokes, Susan C., 2005. "Perverse Accountability: A Formal Model of Machine Politics with Evidence from Argentina," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 315-325, August.
    5. Scott, James C., 1972. "Patron-Client Politics and Political Change in Southeast Asia," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 91-113, March.
    6. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, September.
    7. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson & Rafael J. Santos, 2013. "The Monopoly Of Violence: Evidence From Colombia," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 5-44, January.
    8. Leonard Wantchekon, 2003. "Clientelism and voting behavior: Evidence from a field experiment in benin," Natural Field Experiments 00339, The Field Experiments Website.
    9. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2009. "The Experimental Approach to Development Economics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 151-178, May.
    10. Ernesto Calvo & Maria Victoria Murillo, 2004. "Who Delivers? Partisan Clients in the Argentine Electoral Market," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 48(4), pages 742-757, October.
    11. Nichter, Simeon, 2008. "Vote Buying or Turnout Buying? Machine Politics and the Secret Ballot," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 102(1), pages 19-31, February.
    12. Ezequiel Gonzalez‐Ocantos & Chad Kiewiet de Jonge & Carlos Meléndez & Javier Osorio & David W. Nickerson, 2012. "Vote Buying and Social Desirability Bias: Experimental Evidence from Nicaragua," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 56(1), pages 202-217, January.
    13. Rodrik, Dani, 2008. "The New Development Economics: We Shall Experiment, but How Shall We Learn?," Working Paper Series rwp08-055, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    14. Jennifer A. Heerwig & Brian J. McCabe, 2009. "Education and Social Desirability Bias: The Case of a Black Presidential Candidate," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(3), pages 674-686, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gustavo J. Bobonis & Paul J. Gertler & Marco Gonzalez-Navarro & Simeon Nichter, 2022. "Vulnerability and Clientelism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(11), pages 3627-3659, November.
    2. Gustavo J. Bobonis & Paul Gertler & Marco Gonzalez-Navarro & Simeon Nichter, 2023. "Does Combating Corruption Reduce Clientelism?," NBER Working Papers 31266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jorge Gallego, 2015. "Self-enforcing clientelism," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 27(3), pages 401-427, July.

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    More about this item


    Clientelism; Vote Buying; Experiments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development


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