Clientelism is characterized by the combination of particularistic targeting and contingency-based exchange. This method of contingent exchange thrives in both autocracies and democracies. It exists in a large variety of cultural contexts. Confronted with economic development, clientelism fades away in some political contexts but adapts and survives in others. This article explores our understanding of the origins and dynamics of clientelism, focusing on the relationships between clientelism and democracy and between clientelism and development. It then evaluates the connection between clientelism and a variety of political and economic outcomes, including democratic accountability, corruption, and public goods provision. It concludes by outlining some remaining empirical and theoretical challenges and highlighting recent innovations in data collection and empirical methods.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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