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Vulnerability and Clientelism

Author

Listed:
  • Gustavo Bobonis
  • Paul Gertler
  • Marco Gonzalez-Navarro
  • Simeon Nichter

Abstract

Political clientelism is often deemed to undermine democratic accountability and representation. This study argues that economic vulnerability causes citizens to participate in clientelism. We test this hypothesis with a randomized control trial that reduced household vulnerability through a development intervention: constructing residential water cisterns in drought-prone areas of Northeast Brazil. This exogenous reduction in vulnerability significantly decreased requests for private benefits from local politicians, especially by citizens likely to be involved in clientelist relationships. We also link program beneficiaries to granular voting outcomes, and show that this reduction in vulnerability decreased votes for incumbent mayors, who typically have more resources to engage in clientelism. Our evidence points to a persistent reduction in clientelism, given that findings are observed not only during an election campaign, but also a full year later.

Suggested Citation

  • Gustavo Bobonis & Paul Gertler & Marco Gonzalez-Navarro & Simeon Nichter, 2017. "Vulnerability and Clientelism," Working Papers tecipa-586, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-586
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    2. Pranab K. Bardhan, 2021. "Clientelism and governance," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2021-116, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Leopoldo Fergusson & Horacio Larreguy & Juan Felipe Riaño, 2018. "Political Competition and State Capacity: Evidence from a Land Allocation Program in Mexico," Documentos de Trabajo LACEA 016517, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA.
    4. null null & Horacio Larreguy & Benjamin Marx & Otis Reid, 2019. "Eat Widely, Vote Wisely ? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2019-11, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    5. Frey, Anderson, 2019. "Cash transfers, clientelism, and political enfranchisement: Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 1-17.
    6. Leopoldo Fergusson & Carlos A. Molina & James A. Robinson, 2020. "The Weak State Trap," NBER Working Papers 26848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Cavalcanti, Francisco, 2018. "Voters sometimes provide the wrong incentives. The lesson of the Brazilian drought industry," MPRA Paper 88317, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Jeremy Bowles & Horacio Larreguy, 2019. "Who Debates, Who Wins? At-Scale Experimental Evidence on Debate Participation in a Liberian Election," CID Working Papers 375, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    9. Blattman, Christopher & Emeriau, Mathilde & Fiala, Nathan, 2018. "Do anti-poverty programs sway voters? Experimental evidence from Uganda," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 101663, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. Leopoldo Fergusson & Tatiana Hiller & Ana Maria Ibañez, 2020. "Growth and inclusion trajectories of Colombian functional territories," Sobre México. Revista de Economía, Sobre México. Temas en economía, vol. 1(1), pages 79-125.
    11. Santana, Vitor Leal & Rahal, Lilian dos Santos, 2020. "Tecnologias sociais como impulso para o acesso à água e o desenvolvimento sustentável no meio rural brasileiro: a experiência do Programa Cisternas," Documentos de Proyectos 45596, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    12. Jonathan Phillips, 2017. "Can Bihar Break the Clientelist Trap? The Political Effects of Programmatic Development Policy," Working Papers id:11965, eSocialSciences.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Vulnerability; Clientelism; Voting.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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