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, will bring together a theoretically and regionally diverse set of expertise to consider the relationship between clientelism and development. The panel includes four papers:

Panel discussants are Ken Ochieng' Opalo from Georgetown University and Maria C. Lo Bue from UNU-WIDER.

Session Description

A rich literature studies clientelism, including consideration of underlying mechanisms and processes; correlates and contributing factors; and political, social, and economic consequences (see, e.g., Bardhan & Mookherjee, 2018; Hicken, 2011; Mares & Young, 2016; Stokes, 2013). This session explores connections between literatures on clientelist politics and economic development from both political science and economics, with focused consideration of cross-national relationships and experience in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. Collectively, the papers speak to three (inter-connected) questions:

1) How do clientelistic politics directly affect the poor, especially the poorest of the poor? The literature has emphasized associations between clientelism and poverty. Politicians, for instance, may have strong incentives to target the poor, whose electoral choices may be more influenced by small economic incentives than those of the median voter. Can this be redistributive? Does it provide channels for the poor to exercise political influence?

2) How do clientelistic politics influence development via impact on state capacity and state-society relations? The literature has emphasized the detrimental effects of clientelism and patronage politics on bureaucratic quality and state capacity through various channels. This in turn can be expected to influence development outcomes, for instance when public resources are used to sustain clientelistic networks rather than for the public good – yet these linkages might be further developed.

3) How do clientelistic politics influence development via impact on electoral politics and policy-making by elected leaders? What is the relationship between clientelism and programmatic politics? Can – and how do – they co-exist? How do these dynamics affect national development prospects? What reforms or interventions are most likely to lead to a decline in clientelistic politics?

More information about the panel can be found here.