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Cash transfers, clientelism, and political enfranchisement: Evidence from Brazil

Anderson Frey

Journal of Public Economics, 2019, vol. 176, issue C, 1-17

Abstract: This paper uses Brazil's Bolsa Família to show that redistributive policies that are shielded from the influence of political intermediaries can reduce incumbency advantage for mayors, increase both electoral competition and candidate quality, reduce support for clientelistic parties, and lead incumbents to increase redistributive spending. The paper exploits a nonparametric multivariate regression discontinuity design and employs a novel identification strategy for the variation in program coverage. The theory proposes that cash transfers, by reducing the vulnerability of poor voters, make clientelism a less attractive strategy to incumbent mayors. Consequently, incumbents reallocate effort away from the practice into public good distribution.

Keywords: Political economy; Clientelism; Redistribution; Cash transfers (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:176:y:2019:i:c:p:1-17