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Oil discoveries, paired with delays in production, have created a new phenomenon: sustained post-discovery, pre-production periods. While research on the resource curse has debated the effects of oil on governance and conflict, less is known about the political effects of oil discoveries absent production. Using comprehensive electoral data from Uganda and a difference-in-differences design with heterogeneous effects, we show that oil discoveries increased electoral support for the incumbent chief executive in localities proximate to discoveries, even prior to production. Moreover, the biggest effects occurred in localities that were historically most electorally competitive. Overall, we show that the political effects of oil discoveries vary subnationally depending on local political context and prior to production, with important implications for understanding the roots of the political and conflict curses.
Does democratization lead to more meritocracy in the civil service? The Element argues that electoral accountability increases the value of competence over personal loyalty in the civil service. While this resembles an application of merit principles, it does not automatically reduce patronage politics or improve public goods provision. Competent civil servants are often used to facilitate the distribution of clientelistic goods at mass scale to win competitive elections. The selection of competent but less loyal civil servants requires the increased use of control mechanisms, like the timing of promotions, to ensure their compliance. The Element tests these claims using novel micro-level data on promotions in Indonesia's civil service before and after democratization in 1999. The Element shows that national- and local-level elections led to increased promotion premiums for educated civil servants, and simultaneously generated electoral cycles in the timing of promotions, but did little to improve public goods provision.
Dictators depend on a committed bureaucracy to implement their policy preferences. But how do they induce loyalty and effort within their civil service? The authors study indoctrination through forced military service as a cost-effective strategy for achieving this goal. Conscription allows the regime to expose recruits, including future civil servants, to intense “political training” in a controlled environment, which should improve system engagement. To test this hypothesis, the authors analyze archival data on over 370,000 cadres from the former German Democratic Republic. Exploiting the introduction of mandatory service in the gdr in 1962 for causal identification, they find a positive effect of conscription on bureaucrats’ system engagement. Additional analyses indicate that this effect likely did not result from deep norm internalization. Findings are more compatible with the idea that political training familiarized recruits with elite preferences, allowing them to behave strategically in accordance with the rules of the game.
This chapter reviews emerging research that investigates how sub-national government tiers are partitioned geographically, and how this affects political and economic outcomes, with a particular focus on the developing world. Many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, have experienced substantial changes in the number and shape of provincial, regional, or local government units. This phenomenon of ``administrative unit proliferation'' has dramatically reorganized the territorial structure of government and reshaped political processes and outcomes, yet is conceptually distinct from vertical decentralization reforms. The literature has identified functional, political supply-side, and political demand-side arguments for understanding changes in the number of governing units. Functional arguments rely on the logic of efficiency in public goods provision to determine the optimal size of governing units. Supply-side argument focus in the political benefits of administrative unit proliferation for national executives as a tool for patronage, divide-and-rule strategies or as credible commitment device. Demand side arguments highlight the role of marginalized ethnic groups in demanding new governing units to improve representation and accountability. Research on the effects of unit proliferation has been limited and focused on the trade-offs between governing units’ size and the quality of services provision, effects on political violence, and political accountability.
What is the effect of increased electoral competition on patronage politics? If programmatic appeals are not credible, institutional reforms that move politics from an elite- to a mass-focused and more competitive environment increase patronage efforts. This leads to an overall surge and notable spike in discretionary state hiring in election years. The study tests this prediction in the context of Indonesia’s decentralized education sector. The authors exploit the exogenous phasing in and timing of elections in Indonesian districts for causal identification. They find evidence of election-related increases in the number of contract teachers on local payrolls and increases in civil service teacher certifications, which dramatically increases salaries. These effects are particularly pronounced for districts in which the former authoritarian ruling party is in competition with new entrants.
What explains states’ sub-national territorial reach? While large parts of the state-building literature have focused on national capabilities, little is known about the determinants of the unevenness of state presence at the sub-national level. This article seeks to fill this gap by looking at early attempts at state building: it investigates the processes of state penetration in the former colony of German East Africa. Contrary to previous studies – which largely emphasized antecedent or structural factors – the current study argues that geographical patterns of state penetration have been driven by the state’s strategic imperative to solidify control over territory and establish political stability. The article tests these propositions using an original, geo-referenced grid-cell dataset for the years 1890 to 1909 based on extensive historical records in German colonial yearbooks and maps.
Industry lobbying is traditionally thought of as a non-excludable good subject to collective action problems that are most easily solved by concentrated industries. However, there is very little empirical support for this hypothesis. In this paper, we address a major shortcoming of existing work on the topic: Its near-exclusive reliance on data from the US. Using comparative firm-level survey data from up to 74 countries, we construct an industry-level indicator of concentration and test its effect on firms’ lobbying activity. Using multilevel Extreme Bounds Analysis and Bayesian Variable Selection techniques to account for model uncertainty, we find no evidence that industry concentration is a predictor of lobbying activity. We discuss the implications of these non-findings for the literature and outline possible avenues for further research.
The spread of cell phone technology across Africa has transforming effects on the economic and political sphere of the continent. In this paper, we investigate the impact of cell phone technology on violent collective action. We contend that the availability of cell phones as a communication technology allows political groups to overcome collective action problems more easily and improve in-group cooperation, and coordination. Utilizing novel, spatially disaggregated data on cell phone coverage and the location of organized violent events in Africa, we are able to show that the availability of cell phone coverage significantly and substantially increases the probability of violent conflict. Our findings hold across numerous different model specifications and robustness checks, including cross-sectional models, instrumental variable techniques, and panel data methods.
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