Programmatic Redistribution and Clientelism: Evidence from a Conjoint Survey Experiment in Brazil

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Programmatic redistribution and clientelism often co-exist even though the mode of resource allocation differs in fundamental ways. This is also the case in Brazil, where redistributive programs like Bolsa Família operate alongside widespread clientelist distribution by political parties. Clientelism may, however, lower both the supply of and demand for redistribution and exacerbate existing political and economic inequalities. In this paper, we study voter preferences for redistribution, taxation and clientelism in Brazil. We focus on the demand-side of redistributive politics and examine how voters reward or punish political candidates, whose policy platforms differ in their mix of of local conditional cash transfer programs, attitudes towards progressive income taxes, and clientelist job and cash offers. We implemented a nationally representative conjoint survey experiment to study voter preferences for city councilor candidates around the municipal elections in November 2020. We expect that voters are more likely to support candidates, who support universal programs, taxes for the rich, and no clientelist strategies. We study the interaction between clientelism and redistributive policies and we expect clientelism lowers voter demand for programmatic redistribution. In addition, our expectation is that low-income voters favor clientelist strategies and targeted redistributive programs. Our paper bridges the literature on voter demand for programmatic public spending, taxation and clientelist distribution in developing countries. We suggest that clientelist distribution may operate as an alternative to programmatic forms of redistribution and taxation in countries where state capacity is low.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages57
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventAmerican Political Science Association, APSA Annual Meeting 2021 - Virtuel and In-person, Seattle, United States
Duration: 30 Sep 20213 Oct 2021


ConferenceAmerican Political Science Association, APSA Annual Meeting 2021
LocationVirtuel and In-person
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Cite this