Menu Adam R Brown

Notes navigation: Browse by titleBrowse by authorSubject index

Wantchekon: Clientelism and voting behavior

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Wantchekon. 2003. Clientelism and voting behavior: Evidence from a field experiment in Benin. World Politics: 399-422.


Don't know how he got this past the human subjects board, but Wantchekon ran a real experiment--with real presidential candidates--in Benin. Candidates adopted either a public-goods or private-goods strategy in (a few) randomly assigned districts. He finds that clientelism, not public goods provision, dominates Benin's politics. "The results further develop and expand the conventional wisdom in African politics by establishing that (1) clientelist appeals reinforce ethnic voting (not the other way round) and that (2) voters' preference for clientelist or public goods messages depends in large part on political factors such as incumbency and on demographic factors such as gender."

Specific findings:

Regarding gender, he argues that men are more likely to be the recipients of clientelism (e.g. they get government jobs), and that's why gender matters. I'm not sure I buy this--after all, I would imagine many women in Benin are housewives, and therefore be happy if their husbands get a government job.

Research on similar subjects


Wantchekon, Leonard (author)Comparative PoliticsClientelismVoting

Wikisum home: Index of all summaries by title, by author, or by subject.