Do Anti-Poverty Programs Sway Voters? Experimental Evidence from Uganda

Citation data:

SSRN Electronic Journal

Publication Year:
2017
Usage 3743
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SSRN
SSRN Id:
2887752
DOI:
10.2139/ssrn.2887752
Author(s):
Blattman, Christopher ; Emeriau, Mathilde ; Fiala, Nathan
Publisher(s):
Elsevier BV
Tags:
Political behavior; voting; partisanship; employment; labor market programs; poverty; cash transfers; Uganda; field experiment
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article description
Policies that change economic and social outcomes for citizens may not always lead to support for the political party that introduced the policy. In 2008, under the Youth Opportunities Program, the Ugandan government encouraged groups of young people to submit proposals to start enterprises. Among the 535 groups whose proposals were deemed eligible, a random 265 received grants of nearly $400 per person. A companion paper showed that, after four years, YOP raised employment by 17% and earnings by 38%. Here, we show that YOP recipients were no more likely to support the ruling party in elections. Rather, recipients slightly increased party membership, campaigning, and voting in favor of the opposition parties. We discuss potential mechanisms for this effect, including misattribution of YOP, group socialization, and financial independence freeing voters from transactional voting.