Voice in a Clientelist System: How Civically Engaged Communities Succeed in Distributive Politics
62 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2016 Last revised: 3 Jun 2018
Date Written: April 14, 2016
Why are some communities more successful than others in terms of access to government programs? This paper develops a theory of how the combination of top-down political connections together with bottom-up community civic engagement is required for success in distributive politics. The theory is applied to variation in the performance of a rural employment guarantee program across villages in India and tested with a survey of 2,250 households across 90 villages, nested within a close elections natural experiment. The data show that electing a ruling-party legislator significantly improves household access to public works employment. However, within aligned constituencies, these benefits primarily accrue to civically engaged villages while civically disengaged villages are crowded out. The findings highlight the neglected but important role that community voice, in interaction with political connections, plays in distributive politics, even in clientelist settings.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation