In the developing world, clientelism is common. In Africa, public office is often used to redistribute resources to ethnically defined constituencies, and this form of clientelistic exchange is a key determinant of vote choice. Does clientelistic...
Clientelism, public goods provision, and governance
It is widely believed that clientelism—the giving of material goods in return for electoral support—is associated with poorer development outcomes. However, systematic cross-country evidence on the deleterious effects of clientelism on development...
Clientelism and governance
Unlike much of the growing literature on political clientelism, this short paper contains mainly the author’s general reflections on the broad issues of governance (or mis-governance including corruption), democracy, and state capacity that...
Formalizing clientelism in Kenya
THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF A FORTHCOMING JOURNAL SPECIAL ISSUE OF WORLD DEVELOPMENT | Why does clientelism persist? What determines how politicians signal responsiveness to voters and exert effort towards fulfilling campaign promises? This article...
Management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kerala through the lens of state capacity and clientelism
During the first wave of COVID-19 infections, Kerala, a state in southern India, successfully managed to contain the pandemic. As a result, the Kerala model of managing the COVID-19 pandemic was celebrated as a success across the globe. However, at...
Poverty, social networks, and clientelism
Why are the poor susceptible to clientelism, and what factors shield them from the influence of vote buying? We explore the role of both formal and informal social networks in shaping the likelihood of being targeted with private inducements. We...
Where does the money come from to buy votes? We argue that an important source of funds for vote-buying comes from ‘contract clientelism’, or the provision of public contracts to private firms in exchange for campaign donations. Using quantitative...
Technology and clientelist politics in India
This paper argues that new computer, smartphone, and universal ID technologies are reducing the incentives for political clientelism in the delivery of social programmes in India, especially by allowing party leaders to bypass local brokers to credit...
Social ties, clientelism, and the poor’s expectations of future service provision
Are candidates who hand out clientelistic goods at election time less likely to provide services once they take office? This paper examines the poor’s expectations of future service provision by candidates who hand out money and other goods versus...
How clientelism undermines state capacity
Does clientelism perpetuate the weak state capacity that characterizes many young democracies? Prior work explains that clientelist parties skew public spending to private goods and under-supply public goods. Building on these insights, this article...
Formalizing clientelism in Kenya
Why does clientelism persist? What determines how politicians signal responsiveness or fulfil their campaign promises? Existing works assume that politicians choose the most successful means of winning votes—either through targeted patronage...
Voter coercion and pro-poor redistribution in rural Mexico
Voter coercion is a recurrent threat to pro-poor redistribution in young democracies. In this study we focus on Mexico’s paradigmatic Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera (POP) programme. We investigate whether local mayors exploited POP to coerce voters...
Residual capacity and the political economy of pandemic response in Ghana
On the whole, poor countries in Africa and elsewhere seem to have weathered the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19) pandemic better than wealthier countries with superior healthcare systems. Using the Ghanaian case, this paper draws on newspaper...
Clientelism and targeting of welfare benefits: Can a centralized formula-based system do better?
Local governments in India—known as panchayats—are sometimes criticised for failing to deliver benefits earmarked for vulnerable regions or households...
Political Clientelism and Capture
We provide a theory of political clientelism, which explains sources and determinants of political clientelism, the relationship between clientelism and elite capture, and their respective consequences for allocation of public services, welfare, and...
Clientelist politics and development panel at APSA 2020 annual meeting
On 10 September UNU-WIDER will be participating in a panel at the 2020 APSA Virtual Annual Meeting & Exhibition, on the topic of Clientelist Politics and Development. The panel, chaired by UNU-WIDER's Senior Research Fellow Rachel M. Gisselquist...
10 September 2020
Clientelist politics and economic development
15 October 2020
16 October 2020
Virtual, Helsinki , Finland
Clientelism and development: is there a poverty trap?
There are sound theoretical reasons to expect clientelism to suppress economic growth: politicians who garner support by offering employment to voters and grassroots party members can do so more effectively when the voters’ participation constraint...
Clientelism – another reason to worry about US democracy
The last several months have given us many reasons to worry about US democracy – not least the riot at the US Capitol and the president’s refusal to...
Social ties amongst lower-income citizens shape support for vote-buying candidates
Across Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia, political candidates often attempt to buy the votes of the most socio-economically deprived communities. But new...
Breaking the cycle of clientelism: How access to formal networks can empower the poor
In democracies around the world, election season is often associated with the power of political machines and their attempts to sway voters in their...
Clientelistic politics and pro-poor targeting
Past research has provided evidence of clientelistic politics in delivery of programme benefits by local governments, or gram panchayats (GPs), and manipulation of GP programme budgets by legislators and elected officials at upper tiers in West...
Does political clientelism lead to higher corruption and a weaker rule of law?
Political clientelism is the strategic, discretionary, and targeted exchange of goods and services between politicians and voters for political...