Objectives and Design


The main aim of this project is to study systematically the demand side of clientelism. This implies shedding light on:

  • Factors that influence the demand for clientelism, including material/ rational, as well as psychological factors.
  • The prevalence of different forms of clientelism, such as vote buying or “traditional” clientelism.
  • The client’s trade-offs involved in engaging in clientelism.
  • The welfare implications of clientelism.



Our project focuses on South Africa and Tunisia and uses different methodological approaches. These include:

  • Conceptualizing formal theoretical models to clarify trade-offs involved in different forms of clientelism and to derive hypotheses for the empirical work.
  • A systematic review of ethnographic literature on the client perspective.
  • Focus groups to understand the experience associated to different forms of clientelism and the factors that appear to matter for the client’s choice.
  • A survey designed to study prevalence of different types of clientelism, including a list experiment to assess the potential social desirability bias of answers to clientelism questions.
  • Survey experiments to examine the causal role of different factors on the demand for different forms of clientelism.



  • The project lasts for 27 months, from June 2017 until September 2019.