GLD Working Papers

Poor People’s Beliefs and the Dynamics of Clientelism

Miquel Pellicer, Eva Wegner, Lindsay J. Benstead and Ellen Lust


Political science literature on clientelism has tended to focus on vote-buying, viewed primarily from the perspective of parties/brokers. The motives that drive clients to engage in clientelism and the different forms of clientelism that result remain relatively unexplored. This paper proposes a formal model of clientelism that focuses primarily on the client’s side, setting clientelism against the possibility of supporting a redistributive platform and incorporating insights from social psychology theories. We consider two key perceptions: political efficacy and inequality legitimation, and make them endogenous. In the model, perceptions of inefficacy and the legitimacy of inequality reinforce each other leading to multiple steady states. One of these resembles a “traditional” form of clientelism with disempowered clients that legitimize social inequalities. Community connectivity breaks this reinforcement mechanism and leads to a unique steady state, where clientelism and programmatic redistribution coexist, that resembles “modern” clientelism characterized by vote-buying.

It Takes a Female Chief: Gender and Effective Policy Advocacy in Malawi

Ragnhild Muriaas, Vibeke Wang, Lindsay J. Benstead, Boniface Dulani and Lise Rakner


Traditional leadership often coexists with modern political institutions, yet we know little about how traditional and state authority cues—or those from male or female sources—affect public support for human rights issues. Using an original survey experiment of 1,381 Malawians embedded in the 2016 Local Governance Performance Index (LGPI), we randomly assign respondents to a control group or one of four treatment groups to receive a message about child marriage reform from a female or male traditional authority or parliamentarian. Overall, we find that the female traditional authority is most effective, while other endorsers elicit backfire effects. Endorsements produce complex heterogeneous effects across respondent sex, patrilineal/matrilineal customs, gender attitudes, and institutional trust. We extend traditional governance literature by elaborating an intersectional approach to policy advocacy and building a theoretical framework explaining the impact of state and traditional endorsements across countries and policy domains.

Governance and Service Delivery in the Middle East and North Africa

Adam Harris, Kristen Kao, Ellen Lust, Jens Ewald and Petter Holmgren


This paper explores the clientelistic equilibrium that remains prevalent in much of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during the post-independence period, undermining service delivery and creating inequality in access. Political institutions and social practices that shape incentives for policymakers, service providers, and citizens create what can be called a potentially tenuous, “clientelistic equilibrium.” Service delivery is influenced by political institutions that allow for the capture of public jobs and service networks, and by social institutions that call upon individuals to respond more readily to members of their social networks than to others. The result is poor quality service delivery (e.g., absenteeism, insufficient effort), difficulties in access (e.g., need for bribes, connections), and inequalities in the provision of services.

In this paper, our primary goal is to describe the relationship between clientelism and personal connections, focusing on the MENA region. We draw upon existing studies and surveys (e.g., the Arab Barometer) of service provision in the MENA, but focus particularly on findings from surveys that researchers affiliated with the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) have conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, and Tunisia since 2011. (Sources are outlined in Appendix A.) We begin with a discussion of the dominance of personal networks and clientelistic exchanges in service delivery in the MENA. We then describe the empirical relationships observed in our data with regards to the importance of personal connections in obtaining services and the inequalities that emerge.

Does the Islamic State Have a "Social Contract"? Evidence From Iraq and Syria

Mara Revkin


This paper attempts to make three contributions to the rebel governance literature through an indepth case study of the Islamic State. First, I identify the key elements of the social contract that the Islamic State claims to be offering to its “citizens” in Iraq and Syria, as described in its official documents and communications. Second, I present evidence that the Islamic State’s legal system is the primary arena in which this social contract is constructed and enforced. Third, I argue that civilian cooperation with the terms of the Islamic State’s social contract is closely related to the perceived legitimacy of its institutions. In areas where the Islamic State attempts to impose taxes or conscription without having previously established an apparatus for the delivery of essential services and a legal framework to legitimize its rule, civilians are more likely to resist its policies. The paper draws on primary source documents, interviews with 88 Syrians and Iraqis who have lived in Islamic State-controlled areas, and Twitter data.

We Don't Need No Education: Resource Endowments and the Demand for Social Service Provision

Jumana Alaref, Hans Lueders, and Ellen Lust


Conventional wisdom holds that citizens demand high quality service provision across all countries and sectors, and as a result, attributes variations in education, health and other human development outcomes to supply-side factors. However, this paper challenges this assumption. We argue that such outcomes are the result of both supply- and demand-side factors, and thus should not be viewed as reflecting variation in service delivery. Moreover, citizen demand for services varies across both countries and sectors, and it does so systematically. We demonstrate the importance of demand-side factors through an analysis of the impact of natural resource rents on health and education outcomes. While citizens in rentier and non-rentier states both demand high quality health services, those who benefit from oil and gas rents are less likely to need and demand high quality education. This is because citizens in rentier economies can obtain a high standard of living regardless of the quality of education they attain, but oil rents have no systematic impact on their demand for good health. We support this argument through cross-sectional analysis of national-level health and education outcomes in nine countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Doing so highlights the importance of taking citizens’ demand for services seriously, draws attention to problems of using health and education outcomes as measures of service delivery, and extends the literature on rentier states.