One Mandarin Benefits the Whole Clan: Hometown Favoritism in an Authoritarian Regime
Favoritism, Patronage, Authoritarian Regime, Political Connection, Hometown, Infrastructure
We study patronage politics in authoritarian Vietnam, using an exhaustive panel of ranking officials from 2000 to 2010 to estimate their promotions’ impact on infrastructure in their patrilineal hometowns. Favoritism is pervasive across all ranks, even among officials without budget authority. Promotions of officials strongly improve hometown infrastructure including roads, marketplaces, and irrigation. In contrast to democracies’ pork-barrel politics, elected legislators are not influential. Favoritism is likely motivated by officials’ social preferences for hometowns rather than by political considerations, because favors are narrowly targeted to small communes, and are stronger where local culture emphasizes the family bond.