Working Paper
Political Clientelism and Capture

Theory and Evidence from West Bengal, India

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 empirical measurement of government accountability in service delivery. Using data from household surveys in rural West Bengal, we argue that the model helps explain observed impacts of political reservations in local governments that are difficult to reconcile with standard models of redistributive politics.