Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Krister P. Andersson

Second Advisor

David S. Brown

Third Advisor

Andy Baker

Abstract

Two theories argues that differences in public goods provision can often be explained by governments' levels of democracy, with more democratic governments spending more on public goods. These theoretical approaches are empirically well-supported but disagree on the mechanisms involved. On the one hand, democracy may operate by making it easier to remove leaders, thereby limiting waste and rent-seeking behavior. On the other hand, democracy may function through a process of particularistic exchange, such that supporters are rewarded with goods but non-supporters are excluded. Here, I test these contending theories statistical data analysis. I find that both theoretical approaches appear to have some explanatory power, but particularistic exchange appears to be most strongly and consistently associated with spending outcomes. I then expand the analysis to examine the impact of opposition strength, civil society, and economic inequality on particularism. I find that strong oppositions and strong civil society reduce particularistic exchange, and economic inequality increases particularism. The analysis presented here goes beyond the work of existing research by examining the causes of public goods provision within the population of democratic states, rather than focusing on the differences between democracies or authoritarian regimes. The implication of my findings is that much, perhaps most public service provision is a result of a process often referred to as constituent service, interest group politics, pork barrel politics, patronage, particularism, or clientelism, in which voters supply elected politicians with political support and in return, politicians provide tangible benefits such as government services. Further, rules which strengthen oppositions, increase jurisdictional sizes, decrease economic inequality, or promote civil society are likely to reduce particularism.

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