Vulnerability and Clientelism

89 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2017 Last revised: 16 Jun 2021

See all articles by Gustavo J. Bobonis

Gustavo J. Bobonis

University of Toronto - Department of Economics

Paul J. Gertler

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marco Gonzalez-Navarro

Associate professor; affiliation not provided to SSRN

Simeon Nichter

Harvard University; University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Date Written: July 2017

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Bobonis, Gustavo J. and Gertler, Paul J. and Gonzalez-Navarro, Marco and Gonzalez-Navarro, Marco and Nichter, Simeon, Vulnerability and Clientelism (July 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23589, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3003727

Gustavo J. Bobonis (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

Paul J. Gertler

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-1418 (Phone)
510-642-4700 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Marco Gonzalez-Navarro

Associate professor ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Simeon Nichter

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

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