Winning Proposal to the Pierce Scholar's Fund: 2015 Competition

Project Title: Who Benefits? Ethnicity, Voting and Government Goods Provision in Uganda

Faculty Sponsors: Nahomi Ichino

Graduate Student: Peter Carroll

Project Description

Uganda, a country of 38 million people in East Africa with a history of brutal dictatorship and civil wars, has made great strides in recent years in adopting multi-party elections and in meeting the Millennium Development Goals: it has halved the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, increased the share of births attended by skilled healthcare workers, reduced the under- ve mortality rate, and increased access to clean water and sanitation facilities. This progress depends upon the government's distribution of limited development resources to particular locations and constituencies. Although political science has several established theories of distributive politics, these are more appropriate for more democratic electoral settings with real competition between political parties in continuous ideological space. It is not yet well understood how governments make these allocation decisions in ethnically diverse, partial democracies in the developing world like Uganda, where the incumbent strongman may use intimidation as a substitute for winning voters' support and voters' preference for co-ethnic candidates or parties identi ed with their own ethnic group might undermine performance-based voting.

This project investigates how the geography of political support a ects partially-democratic governments' allocation of development goods and their impact on social welfare, and following the upcoming elections in 2016, how voters in turn respond to the distribution of these goods.