Vulnerability and Clientelism
89 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2017 Last revised: 16 Jun 2021
Date Written: July 2017
This study argues that economic vulnerability causes citizens to participate in clientelism, a phenomenon with various pernicious consequences. We employ a randomized control trial that reduced household vulnerability through a development intervention: constructing residential water cisterns in drought-prone areas of Brazil. This intervention significantly decreased requests for private goods from politicians, especially among citizens likely to be in clientelist relationships. We also link program beneficiaries to electronic voting machines, and show the intervention decreased votes for incumbent mayors, who typically have more resources for clientelism. Findings are observed not only during the election campaign, but also a full year later.
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