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Empirical evidence on the impact of clientelism on income redistribution

Kyriacou, Andreas (2020): Empirical evidence on the impact of clientelism on income redistribution.

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Abstract

This article marshals empirical evidence from a cross-section of up to 86 countries to consider the assertion that clientelism will reduce income redistribution because it implies the weakness of programmatic politics, thus undermining the emergence of broad-based redistributive programs. To measure clientelism I turn to expert surveys capturing the extent to which political candidates and parties promise selective material and non-material benefits to voters. The analysis controls for a range of potentially confounding covariates including the level of economic development and democracy, market income inequality and ethnic heterogeneity. It moreover accounts for the real possibility that more extensive redistributive programs may undermine the strength of clientelism. The results strongly support the expectation that clientelism is inimical to income redistribution.

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