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The Weak State Trap

Leopoldo Fergusson (), Carlos A. Molina () and James A. Robinson ()

Documentos CEDE from Universidad de los Andes - CEDE

Abstract: Development outcomes come in `clusters' that seem difficult to exit. Using original data from Colombia, we present evidence of the interconnection between two critical political components: state weakness and clientelism. State weakness creates the right environment for clientelism to ourish. Clientelism sets in place a structure of incentives for politicians and citizens that is detrimental to building state capacity. We show that vote buying, as a measure of clientelism, and tax evasion, as a measure of state weakness, are highly correlated at the individual level. We also report evidence that both practices are widely accepted in society, a result consistent with a deeply entrenched relationship of mutually reinforcing in uences. Finally, we propose a set of mechanisms that underlie the hypothesis that a weak state and widespread clientelism are part of a political equilibrium with multiple feedback loops. Our results suggest that state weakness is a trap that is likely hard to exit.

Keywords: State capacity; tax evasion; clientelism; vote buying; social desirability bias; list experiments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C83 C93 D72 D73 H26 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 53
Date: 2020-07-13
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-iue
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