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Title: Politicians, patrons, and the people : influences on targeted government redistribution in Pakistan
Author: Vyborny, Katherine Helen Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 2030
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Powerful individuals often influence the delivery of government services for their own purposes. Officials may prefer inherently to direct assistance to their own relatives and social contacts (nepotistic preferences). Alternatively, they may use government services strategically in exchange for favors (patronage) or to gain voter support (clientelism). Most existing literature examines these three phenomena separately, or does not distinguish the motivations for politicians’ influence on distribution. Causal identification has also been a problem in the empirical literature. In the first chapter of this thesis, I develop a theoretical model of interaction between three levels of actors: politicians, local patrons, and households. The model allows for politicians and patrons to influence government services for nepotistic, clientelistic, and patronage purposes. In chapters 2-4, I test the predictions of the model using two novel household survey datasets I collected along with my collaborators in rural Punjab, Pakistan. Chapter 2 tests the theoretical predictions for the interaction of politicians, patrons and voters. Chapters 3 and 4 provide quasi-experimental evidence on the causal effect of links with politicians on assistance. I find evidence that politicians exert dramatic influence on the targeting of government assistance in this setting. Consistent with the theoretical model, the most assistance goes to a small “inner circle” of their closest contacts. Politicians assist this “inner circle” based on their inherent preferences, regardless of electoral pressure. When politicians face electoral pressure, they also deliver assistance to a wider group, in particular members of the same clan. In contrast, local patrons do not appear to have significant independent influence over the targeting of the government assistance programs I study, but they do provide other types of assistance to households. Their behavior is more consistent with the idea that they are motivated by inherent preferences for assisting their contacts. The results have implications for the interpretation of empirical literature on nepotism, clientelism, and patronage. They can also inform the policies of donor agencies and civil society organizations who aim to engage or pressure governments to reduce corruption and improve public spending.
Supervisor: Fafchamps, Marcel Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Development economics ; Economics ; patronage ; clientelism ; Pakistan ; targeting