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Buying votes versus supplying public services: Political incentives to under-invest in pro-poor policies

Stuti Khemani ()

Journal of Development Economics, 2015, vol. 117, issue C, 84-93

Abstract: This paper provides evidence that vote buying in poor democracies is associated with lower investments in broadly delivered public services that have been shown to disproportionately benefit the poor. Using detailed data around the local institutional context in the Philippines, the paper shows how the correlation can be interpreted as arising in equilibrium under conditions of clientelism, when political strategies emphasize the provision of targeted benefits in exchange for political support. In places where households report more vote buying, government records show that municipalities invest less in basic health services for mothers and children; and, a higher percentage of children are recorded as severely under-weight. Corroborating evidence is provided using Afrobarometer surveys across 33 countries. Taken together, the evidence shows that where politicians purchase political support through targeted transfers, they are likely to trade it off against the provision of broader public services on which poor people rely.

Keywords: Clientelism; Vote buying; Pro-poor services; Public health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2015.07.002

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