Full List of Working Papers

CPD Working Paper 2016-15: “An Informational Theory of Electoral Targeting: Evidence From Senegal”
Jessica Gottlieb (Texas A&M), Horacio Larreguy (Harvard)
To explain the puzzle of why parties target “core” supporters and reconcile existing theories with contradictory empirics that show significant vote switching, we propose and test a theory of group-level targeting driven by new incumbents learning about groups’ capacity to coordinate votes. Unlike current theories, ours assumes that most groups are nonpartisan and respond to prior transfers as a function of their latent coordinating capacity. The targeting of “core” supporters and significant vote switching can thus be explained by new incumbents learning from local vote tallies about such capacity and refining targeting strategies over time to maximize the support of targeted groups. We test our theory’s predictions using the case of Senegal. Interviews with politicians validate assumptions about new incumbents’ informational disadvantage and potential to learn from local vote tallies, while village-level electoral and local public goods data confirm predicted patterns of targeting, both across groups and over time.

CPD Working Paper 2015-14: “Breaking Clientelism or Rewarding Incumbents? Evidence from an Urban Titling Program in Mexico”
Horacio Larreguy (Harvard)
Abstract: Clientelism is common in developing countries, and often detrimentally affects political accountability and public good provision. However, little is known about how clientelistic equilibria break down, particularly because reforms that could reduce voter dependence on incumbents for special favors may also cause voters to reward the reform’s architects. Exploiting Mexico’s federal structure and changes in incumbency over time, we separate these countervailing effects in the context of a federal land titling program that reached nearly 2.16 million urban households over 35 years. We find that municipal incumbents, who were not responsible for the program’s implementation but often rely on weak property rights to enforce clientelistic exchanges, experience a large and persistent decrease in their vote share in electoral precincts where the program was implemented. The clientelistic capacity of future federal incumbents is diminished to a lesser degree. However, we show that this loss is more than compensated for by the lasting increase in the implementing federal incumbent’s vote share among the land titling program’s beneficiaries. Aligned municipal incumbents also successfully claim credit, receiving a smaller boost that partially offsets their loss of clientelistic capacity. These results thus demonstrate that major programmatic reforms can both reduce clientelism while also rewarding incumbents for their policies in office.

CPD Working Paper 2015-13: “Does Clientelism Work? A Test of Guessability in India
Mark Schneider (Swarthmore College)
Abstract: Research on clientelism broadly assumes that local political agents (e.g. brokers) possess finegrained information on voters’ political preferences, and often can directly or indirectly monitor their votes. This assumption drives theoretical predictions on the efficiency of an electoral strategy of quid pro quo exchange of benefits-for-votes— relative to programmatic distribution— and on whether politicians should target core or swing voters with selective benefits. Despite its pervasiveness in this literature, scholarship does not test the monitoring assumption and analysis of variation in brokers’ ability to identify voters’ partisan preferences has not been conducted. This paper tests this assumption in the context of local politics in Rajasthan, India. I develop a behavioral measure – guessability – based on whether or not an elected village council president correctly guessed the partisan preferences of voters sampled from their local areas. I find guessability to be lower than low-information benchmarks and existing theory expect. Local leaders perform well at identifying the partisan preferences of voters who belong to ethnic groups closely identified with particular political parties or co-partisans who have incentive to reveal their preferences to brokers. They perform poorly at identifying those whose partisan preferences are less certain and require monitoring to reveal. The magnitude of errors on guessability suggests that a strategy of quid-pro-quo clientelism is either extremely inefficient or is less pervasive than existing theory suggests.

CPD Working Paper 2015-12: “Politician Family Networks and Electoral Outcomes: Evidence From the Philippines”
Pablo Querubin (New York University)
Abstract: We demonstrate the electoral importance of politician family networks and provide evidence of the mechanisms behind the relationship. We use a 20 million person dataset, allowing us to reconstruct intermarriage networks for over 15,000 villages in 709 municipalities in the Philippines. We show that politicians are disproportionately drawn from more central families and that, controlling for candidate fixed effects, candidates receive a higher vote share in villages where their families are more central. We present evidence that centrality confers organizational and logistical advantages that facilitate clientelistic transactions such as vote buying and do not operate through popularity, name recognition or through the choice of policies more aligned with their constituents’ preferences.

CPD Working Paper 2015-11: “(Under What Conditions) Do Politicians Reward Their Supporters? Evidence From Kenya’s Constituencies Development Fund”
Daniel Posner (UCLA)
Abstract: N/A

CPD Working Paper 2015-10: “Modular Parties: Making Clientelism Work in Volatile Systems”
Lucas Novaes (UC Berkeley)
Abstract: If clientelistic exchanges require an organization of brokers and clients that cannot be built overnight, how do weakly-institutionalized parties make clientelism work in electorally volatile party systems? In this article I argue that parties do not have to build patron–client linkages from the ground up when local notables have already established them. If parties incorporate local bosses into their organizations, the parties will forge local connections and have access to local notables to broker votes. However, the relationship between parties and local authorities only works as long as parties have access to state resources. When this flow is curtailed, such as when subnational candidates lose elections, the vertical bonds between parties and local authorities are severed. When power changes hands, a new incumbent will form alliances with local notables. I test this model in Brazil, and I show that when gubernatorial candidates win close elections, their parties are able to field more mayoral candidates and subsequently gain more seats in Congress. The same pattern holds on a smaller scale when congressional candidates win their elections. The model helps to explain why clientelistic party systems are stable when parties are not.

CPD Working Paper 2015-09: “Monitoring Political Brokers: Evidence From Clientelistic Networks in México”
Horacio Larreguy (Harvard University)
Abstract: This paper studies how a political party uses electoral data to monitor and incentivize the political brokers who control its clientelistic networks. We study networks organized around rural communal lands in Mexico, which are largely controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). We use the fact that the level at which brokers operate (the communal land) does not necessarily coincide with the level at which the electoral data is disclosed (the electoral section). Guided by a simple model, we compute a measure of how informative the available electoral data is about the performance of the PRI’s political brokers, as a function of the degree of overlap between communal lands and electoral sections. We compare the vote share for the PRI in communal lands where the electoral data is more or less informative, both when the PRI does and does not have access to resources to fund and incentivize brokers. The results suggest that clientelistic networks contribute significantly to the enforcement of clientelistic transactions.

CPD Working Paper 2015-08: “Costly Electoral Campaigns and the Changing Composition of Parliament in Benin”
Dominika Koter (Colgate University)
Abstract: This paper analyzes the effects of high electoral campaign costs on the quality of political candidates in the context of limited party financing. Clientelist electioneering is expensive, but most African parties do not have the necessary resources to cover such expenses.  Instead, they expect candidates for parliament running under their party label to sponsor campaign activities. This puts a premium on recruiting the wealthiest, rather than the most qualified, candidates. I provide empirical evidence for this dynamic from Benin, one of the most successful democracies in Africa, where clientelism is rampant. Using data on professional background of candidates and actual members of parliament from the past 24 years (since the 1991 democratic transition), I show that the number of intellectuals has steadily decreased over time, while the number of MPs representing wealthy professions, such as businessmen and customs officials, has increased.

CPD Working Paper 2015-07: “Economic Development, and the Retreat of Political Clientelism? An Experimental Study of Modern Banking in Manila, Philippines”
Nancy Hite (Tufts University)
Abstract: The formalization of money and credit has profound implications for politics.  In the last decade, roughly a quarter of the world’s population began using formal financial institutions to save, borrow or invest their money.  My research explores the socio-political implications of this phenomenon with a field experiment (n=1978) on expanding formal banking practices to informal business people living in the peri-urban slums of Manila, Philippines. The experimental evidence is substantiated by ethnographic fieldwork, original surveys and spatial analysis, all undertaken in the Philippines.  Together, the quantitative research design and extensive qualitative fieldwork offer a window into the thinking of individual voters caught in the crosshairs of market formalization.  The study finds – in contrast to the view that economic growth increases democratic prospects – that increased access to financial markets actually demotivates political participation in developing democracies.  I argue, that the reason for this counter-intuitive finding is that informal markets and politics are deeply embedded within these poor, urban communities.  Reducing people’s dependency upon informal banking practices acts to empower these individuals and consequently demotivates engagement with clientelistic networks.  A key contribution of this study is the development and testing of a theory of political clientelism that is rooted in a joint understanding of the microeconomic and social constraints faced by low-income people operating in rapidly developing markets.

CPD Working Paper 2015-06: “The Determinants of Local Leader Influence in Elections: A Lab-in-the-Field Experiment in Senegal”
Jessica Gottlieb (Texas A&M University)
Abstract: The implications of clientelism for electoral accountability are mixed. Political intermediaries redistribute needed resources; they also exploit their position to advance personal interests. I argue that two dimensions determine the accountability of local leaders: competitive selection and autonomy of leaders from their community. Exploiting variation in local institutions, I situate this study in three types of communities in Senegal where leaders are known to be influential in political decisionmaking. A novel coordination game measures when and why communities vote for a leader-preferred outcome relative to an instrumentally-preferred one. I find that voters are more likely to sacrifice personal gain when leaders are more autonomous and uncompetitively selected. An experimental manipulation of the game emphasizing the anonymity of elections reveals that fear of sanctions motivates voters to follow their leader, but only in contexts with autonomous leaders. Conversely, anticipation of future reciprocity better explains why voters follow more dependent leaders.

CPD Working Paper 2015-05: “From Cocinol to Natural Gas. The Impact of Structural Change on Clientelistics Networks in Bogotá”
Miguel García-Sánchez (Universidad de los Andes)
Abstract: Many descriptive accounts have showed that patron client relationships suffered an important transformation in the early 90s in Colombia’s urban areas. Political brokers multiplied and there was more competition among them for capturing supporters. This has been attributed to institutional reforms that increased electoral competition. However, are institutions enough to explain the transformation of clientelistic politics in Bogotá? Probably not, as changes in the logic of clientelism may be linked to structural changes that hinder politicians ability to have access to certain political instruments. Thus, this project attempts to explore the role of a structural change in the survival and dynamics of clientelistic networks in Bogotá. Until the early nineties low income families in Bogotá used white gasoline (cocinol) as their main cooking fuel.  Access to this resource was control by local political networks, and it was use by politicians as a clientelistic tool. Starting in the late eighties the Colombian state developed a program to substitute cocinol for natural gas. To analyze the extent to which the introduction of natural gas affected the survival of political networks in Bogotá, this project I will use the expansion of the natural gas network as a natural experiment.

CPD Working Paper 2015-04: “Corruption or Constituency Service? Local Democratic Institutions and Political Connections in Rural India”
Aditya Dasgupta (Harvard University)
Abstract: Why do political connections sometimes deliver corruption and in other cases deliver broadbased constituency service? Based on fieldwork in the Indian state of Rajasthan, this project develops an explanation based upon the structure of local democratic institutions, where bargains between higher-level politicians and local vote brokers are struck. I argue that ruling-party legislators utilize their administrative influence to deliver rural development funds and projects in exchange for support in elections from local village council leaders. But whether a village council leader utilizes these connections for corruption or constituency service hinges on the extent to which the local village council is in practice democratic and subject to broad-based local accountability. I provide evidence for a ruling-party effect based on a close elections regression discontinuity design (RDD) analysis of administrative data on India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). I then present a research design for a household survey nested within the RDD analysis to test whether the ruling-party effect is concentrated on the margin of corruption or program access, and how this varies as a function of quality of democracy in local village councils.

CPD Working Paper 2015-03: “Patrons, Institution-Building and the Provision of Local Public Goods: Evidence from Chiefs in Zambia”
Kate Baldwin (Yale University)
Abstract: Although decentralized brokers are often described as a solution to the commitment and monitoring problems involved in vote buying, local patrons inserted in dense local networks can also facilitate other types of exchanges and activities in their communities. In particular, this paper argues that they can help produce local public goods funded in part through informal taxes, using their networks to ensure citizens contribute to these projects. Furthermore, in contrast to claims that politicians and local brokers offer better terms when they face competition, I argue that only patrons with long time horizons are willing to invest in building and maintaining the networks necessary to monitor, sanction and coordinate citizens. The paper provides evidence from this claim drawing on a “natural experiment” in Zambia – the timing of chief’s deaths – to estimate the effects of losing chiefs with different time horizons. I conclude by outlining (in brief) the design of a complementary analysis I would like to conduct to assess the long-term impact of chiefs on local public goods provision.

CPD Working Paper 2015-02: “Clients or Constituents? Distribution Between the Votes in India”
Jennifer Bussell
(UC Berkeley)
Abstract: Empirical accounts suggest that senior politicians in India expend considerable time assisting their constituents to acquire basic public benefits, yet recent research on clientelism focuses substantially on understanding the role of local brokers in structuring the supply of services, or “mediation from below.” How can we adjudicate between these differing perspectives on distributive politics? I argue that senior politicians often play an important role in facilitating access to state benefits, engaging in “mediation from above,” a dynamic that the dominant broker-oriented view of clientelism misses. Variation in these activities also cannot be explained by reference to strategic supply of assistance, and instead depends on choices made by informed individual constituents. Drawing on new and unique data from surveys administered to a random sample of citizens, bureaucrats, and politicians in India, including identical survey experiments, I show that citizens often seek assistance for particularistic benefits through direct contact with senior politicians, even relative to contacts with local brokers. Moreover, experimental evidence supports the argument that citizens differentiate their requests for assistance depending on the perceived power of politicians at different levels of government to assist with their requests. These findings suggest that existing accounts of distributive politics ignore important dynamics of demand-driven constituency service.

CPD Working Paper 2015-01: “Competitive Clientelism”
Edwin Camp
(Yale University)
Abstract: In many developing democracies local party operatives are charged with distributing state goods to citizens. These goods, which include medicine, food, and public employment, are crucial components of anti-poverty programs. So it is troubling that we find broker theft is common. Beyond normative implications, this theft is puzzling. Why do party bosses rely on brokers who take resources that could be used to win votes? Why do voters support parties whose brokers take their resources? In this paper we explain, why both bosses and voters have incentives to support a system of mediated distribution even when brokers take resources that should be distributed to voters. We also identify the conditions that give bosses incentives to circumvent brokers in favor of direct distribution.