Lecture 5.1

Programmatic Politics vs. Clientelism

Emmanuel Teitelbaum

What is Development?

What is a “Developing Country?”

  • World Bank Income Thresholds (GNI per capita, current US$)
    • Low-income: $1,045 or less
    • Lower middle-income: $1,046 - $4,095
    • Upper middle-income: $4,096 - $12,695
    • High income: > $12,696
  • Countries that are still making rapid strides in terms of economic and human development

Map of Income Classifications (2020)

What is Development?

  • Economic Development: change in overall levels of wealth (growth)
    • % increase in GDP or GDP per capita
  • Human Development: change in overall levels of well-being
    • Life expectancy
    • Literacy
    • Infant mortality

Common Approaches

Development as Freedom (Sen)

  • Poverty is “capability deprivation”
  • Governments promote development when they enhance capabilities, in turn promoting freedom

Participatory Development/Inclusive Growth

  • Education and health care produce a more competitive labor force (human capital)
  • Facilitates investment in industry
  • Leads to broad-based “participatory” industrialization

Sustainable Development

  • Minimizing impact on environment
  • Avoiding depletion of natural resources
  • Considering impact of development on future generations

Types of Distributive Politics

Distributive Politics

What is “Distributive Politics”?

  • The politics of how public goods and services are distributed
    • Key to human development
    • Some countries do better than others
  • AKA “the politics of public service provisioning”

Stokes et. al.–two main modes

  • Programmatic
    • Distribution criteria are public
    • Criteria shape distribution of resources
  • Nonprogrammatic
    • Distribution criteria not made public, or distribution influenced by private, partisan criteria

Programmatic vs. Nonprogrammatic Distribution

Source: Stokes et. al. Brokers, Voters, and Clientelism

Discussion (Groups)

Stokes et. al. examples (each group take 1)

  • Progressa/Oportunidades
  • Emergency Food Aid, Argentina
  • La Efectiva, Mexico
  • Housing Improvement Program, Singapore


  • What are characteristics of program in terms of:
    • Criteria for distribution
    • Linkages to electoral support
  • Is the program “clientelist”?
  • Is there anything like it in the U.S.?


Who are brokers?

  • Middlemen, brokers, local political bosses
  • Inform politicians what voters want/need
  • Provide information to and mobilize voters
  • e.g. caciques (Mexico), dalal (India), tim sukses (Indonesia)

Problems with brokers

  • Have their own agenda/ambitions
  • Can do “misguided” or unexpected things
    • misuse of party funds/gifts
      • loyalty
      • running thier own campaigns

Examining Clientelism

Geography of Clientelism


  • Are programmatic modes better for development than non-programmatic modes?
    • Is one or the other more efficient?
    • Is one or the other more ethical?
    • Are brokers helpful or harmful from a developmental standpoint?
  • In your opinion, why might countries eventually shift to programmatic modes?

Wealth and Clientelism

Changes Over Time



  • Development
    • Economic, human
  • Distributive politics
    • Programmatic
    • Nonprogrammatic
    • Brokers
  • Implications
    • Clientelism declines with wealth
    • But changes slow to occur