(Header: A keynote panel on vote-buying, clientelism, patronage, and rent-seeking behvior featuring Prof. Leonard Wantchekon, Princeton University; Constantine Manda, Twaweza (Tanzania) & Yale University; Tesalia Rizzo, MIT; Gustavo Rivera Loret de Mola, Opciona (México); and, moderated by Prof. Daniel Hidalgo, MIT.)


Understanding political behavior in developing countries has recently regained momentum in political science. Research has emerged that tackles issues of racial and intergroup relations, determinants of political participation, partisanship and mobilization as well as the influence of informal institutions and elites on attitudes and behaviors. This research has grown to the extent that we can now discern the outlines of a new line of inquiry on the political behavior of development (PBD).

Studies of PBD focus on political values, ideology and expectations as well as behavioral outcomes, such as voting, political participation or protest. A frequent challenge confronting researchers of political behavior in developing countries is thinking about how to study and theorize about these phenomena in contexts where democratic institutions are weak, party and party systems are volatile, state capacity is low, and/or regime changes are possible.

This year’s conference sought to stimulate a wide range of conversations about what determines citizen expectations of the state, support for justice, electoral and nonelectoral participation, and bureaucratic behavior.

MIT GOV/LAB Organizers: Lily Tsai, Daniel Hidalgo, Tesalia Rizzo, Guillermo Toral, Ben Morse, and Leah Rosenzweig.

Agenda, November 3, 2017

Panel: Understanding Citizen Choice, Expectations, and Political Participation

  • Jessica Gottlieb, Texas A&M University – “Taxation, Expectations and Electoral Behavior: Evidence from a Developing Democracy”.
  • Tariq Thachil, Vanderbilt University – “Which Brokers Do Clients Select? Evidence from India’s Urban Slums” with Adam Auerbach.
  • Nancy Hite-Rubin, Tufts University – “Including the Other Half: How financial modernization disrupts patronage”.
  • Asad Liaqat, Harvard University – “Retrospection beyond Incumbent Performance: Evidence on Vote Choice in Pakistan” with Michael Callen, Ali Cheema, Adnan Khan, Farooq Naseer, and Jacob N. Shapiro.
  • Discussant: Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro, Brown University (MIT GOV/LAB Visiting Scholar)
  • Chair: Daniel Hidalgo, MIT

Keynote Discussion: Does Theory Map to Reality? A Discussion Around the Disciplines’ Approach to Distributive Politics

Researchers often use words like vote-buying, clientelism, patronage, or rent-seeking to describe how distributive politics works in the developing world. However, recent evidence suggests that these phenomena vary widely across contexts. In this panel, we will question the degree to which distributive politics models and their predictions fit the reality we observe on the ground.

The panel features academics and practitioners who have studied and witnessed the impact of distributive politics on political behavior from different perspectives. We hope this discussion helps us to critically evaluate the state of the discipline and how we conduct research that informs policymaking.

  • Leonard Wantchekon, Princeton University
  • Gustavo Rivera Loret de Mola, Opciona (México)
  • Constantine Manda, Twaweza (Tanzania) & Yale University
  • Tesalia Rizzo, MIT
  • Moderator: Daniel Hidalgo, MIT

Paper and Field Design Workshop

  • Saad Gulzar, Stanford University – Experiment Design, “The General Equilibrium Effects of Political Campaigns: A Field Experiment on Female Voters in India” with Anirvan Chowdhury and Durgesh Pathak. Discussant: Leah Rosenzweig, MIT.
  • Aditya Dasgupta, University of California, Merced – “The Political Economy of Bureaucratic Effectiveness: Evidence from Local Rural Development Officials in India” with Devesh Kapur. Discussant: Guillermo Toral, MIT.
  • Omar García-Ponce, University of California, Davis – “Anger and Support for Punitive Justice in Mexico’s Drug War” with Lauren Young and Thomas Zeitzoff. Discussant: Ben Morse, MIT.