NOVAFRICA Seminar: Entrenched Political Dynasties and Development under Competitive Clientelism: Evidence from Pakistan

On Wednesday, October 13th, at 02.30 pm, Lisbon time, the NOVAFRICA Center welcomes Jean-Philippe Platteau from University de Namur to present his work on Entrenched Political Dynasties and Development under Competitive Clientelism: Evidence from Pakistan.

Jean-Philippe Platteau

How political dynasties affect economic development in the context of poor countries is a moot question. Theoretical predictions do not yield a clear answer and empirical studies, albeit recently on the increase, remain few. In this paper, we estimate the impact of dynastic families on local development in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab. Toward this purpose, we compile an original database on political genealogies, which includes information about the personal and family characteristics of both elected representatives and the main contenders in elections for the last one hundred years covering both elections held under colonial rule and Pakistan’s modern political existence. Using a close elections regression discontinuity design, we obtain several results. First, entrenched dynasts operating under conditions of competitive clientelism show worse development performance than non-dynasts. This conclusion also holds when the effect of entrenched personal power, which measures the incumbency advantage of the individual election winners, is controlled for. Yet, it does not hold any more when the dynastic politician has won an election comfortably rather than by a close margin. Second, the behavior of traditional elites, which are overwhelmingly represented among dynasts, does not erase the effect of dynasticism per se. Where it occurs, it is the conjunction of entrenched political power with a traditional family setup characterized by strongly hierarchical relationships that accounts for poor development .  An interpretative story is offered that is inspired by the political theory of economic backwardness of Acemoglu and Robinson as well as by a rich socio-anthropological literature.

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