Ethnic Group Divisions and Clientelism

36 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 16 Aug 2010

See all articles by Kiril Kolev

Kiril Kolev

Hendrix College

Yi-ting Wang

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2010


In this paper, we explore the relationship between ethnic group divisions and clientelism in competitive party systems. We find that engaging in this mode of partisan mobilization is more widespread in contexts characterized by higher number of politically relevant ethnic groups that are economically unequal and therefore expected to have different preferences. We then speculate about and explore the potential mechanisms behind this relationship and find that the effect of ethnicity on clientelism is at least partially due to politicians’ capabilities to sanction the voters, as well as their willingness and ability to circumvent campaign finance regulations. In addition, we present some evidence that when politicians make a greater clientelistic effort by providing targeted benefits and experts judge these efforts to produce indeed additional votes, there is a higher degree of ethnic mobilization, measured as voting along ethnic lines.

Keywords: accountability, elections, clientelism, patronage, ethnicity, inequality

Suggested Citation

Kolev, Kiril and Wang, Yi-ting, Ethnic Group Divisions and Clientelism (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Kiril Kolev (Contact Author)

Hendrix College ( email )

Conway, AR 72032
United States

Yi-ting Wang

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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