World Politics, Vol. 55, Issue 3, 399-422.
Clientelism and Voting Behavior: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Benin
Comparative politics scholars have long considered electoral politics in Africa to be systematically and inherently clintelist. African rulers, whether self-appointed or democratically elected, rely on the distribution of personal favors to selected members of the electorate in exchange for ongoing political support.1 This observation relies on the implicit assumption that African voters invariably have a much stronger preference for private transfers than for public goods or projects of national interest. This article reports on the use of experimental methods to test several hypotheses pertaining to electoral clientelism in Benin in order to investigate the determinants of the voters’ demand for public goods.