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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 5 No. 4 (October 2013)

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Can Informed Public Deliberation Overcome Clientelism? Experimental Evidence from Benin

Article Citation

Fujiwara, Thomas, and Leonard Wantchekon. 2013. "Can Informed Public Deliberation Overcome Clientelism? Experimental Evidence from Benin." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(4): 241-55.

DOI: 10.1257/app.5.4.241

Abstract

This paper studies the electoral effects of town hall meetings based on programmatic, nonclientelist platforms. The experiment involves the cooperation of leading candidates in a presidential election in Benin. A campaign strategy based solely on these meetings was assigned to randomly selected villages and compared to the standard strategy of clientelist rallies. We find that treatment reduces the prevalence of clientelism and does not affect turnout. Treatment also lowers the vote shares for the candidate with a political stronghold in the village and is more effective in garnering votes in regions where a candidate does not have a political stronghold.

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Download Data Set (116.53 KB) | Online Appendix (207.82 KB) | Author Disclosure Statement(s) (139.58 KB)

Authors

Fujiwara, Thomas (Princeton U)
Wantchekon, Leonard (Princeton U and Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy)

JEL Classifications

D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
O17: Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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