CASI has just published a working paper titled “Does Clientelism Work? A Test of Guessability in India,” written by Mark Schneider, a doctoral candidate in Political Science at Columbia University.
Central to the literature on clientelism is the assumption that low-level politicians are able to act as “brokers” between voters and higher-level politicians because they possess invaluable information on the partisan preferences in their area. These brokers are believed to be able to monitor votes and efficiently target benefits on a quid pro quo basis in their area because they possess fine-grained information about voters. In the working paper, Schneider challenges this assumption and introduces a behavioral measure- guessability– to test the degree to which local political elites (the “brokers”) can guess the partisan preferences of locals in their constituency. Based on data collected from nearly 1,000 voters and 100 sarpanches in seven districts throughout Rajasthan, Schneider’s research is a must-read for anyone who studies clientelism and targeted distribution in politics.