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Voting and clientelism: evidence from the Italian land reform


Caprettini, Bruno; Casaburi, Lorenzo; Venturini, Miriam (2021). Voting and clientelism: evidence from the Italian land reform. Discussion Paper Series 15679, Centre for Economic Policy Research.

Abstract

Many democracies around the world feature pervasive clientelist practices. Inequality is often considered a key determinant of these practices. By reducing inequality, redistributive policies may therefore undermine clientelism. However, by inducing gratitude and reciprocity among beneficiaries, redistribution may also initiate clientelist exchange. We study the long-term effects of a major redistribution policy: the 1950 Italian land reform. Using a panel spatial regression discontinuity and data for half a century, we show that the large-scale redistribution led to the emergence of a long-lasting clientelist system characterized by political brokers, patronage and targeted benefits. Within this system, the Christian Democratic party, which promoted the reform, experienced persistent electoral benefits.

Abstract

Many democracies around the world feature pervasive clientelist practices. Inequality is often considered a key determinant of these practices. By reducing inequality, redistributive policies may therefore undermine clientelism. However, by inducing gratitude and reciprocity among beneficiaries, redistribution may also initiate clientelist exchange. We study the long-term effects of a major redistribution policy: the 1950 Italian land reform. Using a panel spatial regression discontinuity and data for half a century, we show that the large-scale redistribution led to the emergence of a long-lasting clientelist system characterized by political brokers, patronage and targeted benefits. Within this system, the Christian Democratic party, which promoted the reform, experienced persistent electoral benefits.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:D72, N44, P16, Q15
Uncontrolled Keywords:Clientelism, Italy, Land reform, redistribution, voting
Language:English
Date:January 2021
Deposited On:30 Aug 2021 15:29
Last Modified:30 Aug 2021 15:29
Series Name:Discussion Paper Series
Number of Pages:91
ISSN:0265-8003
OA Status:Closed
Official URL:https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15679

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