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Vulnerability and Clientelism

Listed author(s):
  • Gustavo Bobonis
  • Paul Gertler
  • Marco Gonzalez-Navarro
  • Simeon Nichter
Registered author(s):

    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.

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    File URL: https://www.economics.utoronto.ca/public/workingPapers/tecipa-586.pdf
    File Function: Main Text
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    Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-586.

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    Length: Unknown pages
    Date of creation: 11 Jul 2017
    Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-586
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