Do electoral handouts affect voting behavior?

Jenny Guardado, Leonard Wantchékon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The literature on vote-buying often assumes a complete transaction of cash for votes. While there is ample evidence that candidates target certain voters with cash handouts, it is unclear whether these actually result in higher turnout and vote-shares for the distributing party. Empirically, we find that cash handouts have a small to no effect on either turnout or vote-shares when using different matching techniques and accounting for district-level factors during the 2011 Beninese presidential election. We cross-validate these results with additional surveys from four other African countries (Kenya, Mali, Botswana, and Uganda). Results suggest that, at least in these contexts, vote-buying can be best understood as an incomplete transaction between candidates and voters, and that handouts from multiple parties as well as district-level traits (e.g. clientelism, public goods) partly account for the small effects observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalElectoral Studies
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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