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One Mandarin Benefits the Whole Clan: Hometown Infrastructure and Nepotism in an Autocracy

Author

Listed:
  • Kieu-Trang Nguyen

    () (Indiana University Bloomington)

  • Quoc-Anh Do

    () (Singapore Management University)

  • Anh Tran

    () (Indiana University Bloomington)

Abstract

This paper studies nepotism by government officials in an authoritarian regime. We collect a unique dataset of political promotions of officials in Vietnam and estimate their impact on public infrastructure in their hometowns. We find strong positive effects on several outcomes, some with lags, including roads to villages, marketplaces, clean water access, preschools, irrigation, and local radio broadcasters, as well as the hometown’s propensity to benefit from the State’s “poor commune support program”. Nepotism is not limited to only top-level officials, pervasive even among those without direct authority over hometown budgets, stronger when the hometown chairperson’s and promoted official’s ages are closer, and where provincial leadership has more discretionary power in shaping policies, suggesting that nepotism works through informal channels based on specific political power and environment. Contrary to pork barrel politics in democratic parliaments, members of the Vietnamese legislative body have little influence on infrastructure investments for their hometowns. Given the top-down nature of political promotions, officials arguably do not help their tiny communes in exchange for political support. Consistent with that, officials favor only their home commune and ignore their home district, which could offer larger political support. These findings suggest that nepotism is motivated by officials’ social preferences directed towards their related circles, and signals an additional form of corruption that may prevail in developing countries with low transparency.

Suggested Citation

  • Kieu-Trang Nguyen & Quoc-Anh Do & Anh Tran, 2012. "One Mandarin Benefits the Whole Clan: Hometown Infrastructure and Nepotism in an Autocracy," Working Papers 07-2012, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:siu:wpaper:07-2012
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    Cited by:

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    nepotism; infrastructure construction; official’s hometown; political connection; political promotion; social preference; directed altruism.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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