Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Forbearance

  • ALISHA C. HOLLAND (a1)
Abstract

Particularly in developing countries, there is a gap between written law and behavior. Comparative research emphasizes that laws go unenforced due to resource constraints or inadequate control of the bureaucracy. I instead introduce the concept of forbearance, or the intentional and revocable nonenforcement of law, and argue that politicians often withhold sanctions to maximize votes as well as rents. Drawing on tools from price theory and distributive politics, I present several methods to separate situations when politicians are unable versus unwilling to enforce the law. I demonstrate the identification strategies with original data on the enforcement of laws against street vending and squatting in urban Latin America. In contexts of inadequate social policy, politicians use forbearance to mobilize voters and signal their distributive commitments. These illustrations thus suggest the rich, and largely neglected, distributive politics behind apparent institutional weakness.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Alisha C. Holland is Junior Fellow, Society of Fellows, Harvard University, 78 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA (aholland@fas.harvard.edu).
References
Hide All
AmengualMatthew. 2015. Politicized Enforcement: Labor and Environmental Regulation in Argentina. New York: Cambridge University Press.
BaşleventCem, and Dayıoğlu Meltem. 2005. “The Effect of Squatter Housing on Income Distribution in Urban Turkey.” Urban Studies 42 (1): 3145.
BeckerGary. 1968. “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach.” Journal of Political Economy 76 (2): 169217.
BergmanMarcelo. 2009. Tax Evasion and the Rule of Law in Latin America: The Political Culture of Cheating and Compliance in Argentina and Chile. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
BurgessRobin, Olken Benjamin A., and Sieber Stefanie. 2012. “The Political Economy of Deforestation in the Tropics.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 127 (4): 1707–54.
BooneCatherine. 2009. “Electoral Populism Where Property Rights Are Weak: Land Politics in Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa.” Comparative Politics 41 (2): 183201.
CamargoAngélica, and Hurtado Adriana. 2013. “Urbanización informal en Bogotá: Agentes y lógicas de producción del espacio urbano.” Invi 28 (78): 77107.
CentenoMiguel Angel, and Portes Alejandro. 2006. “The Informal Economy in the Shadow of the State.” In Out of the Shadows: Political Action and the Informal Economy in Latin America, eds. Fernández-Kelly Patricia and Shefner Jon. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2348.
ChubbJudith. 1982. Patronage, Power and Poverty in Southern Italy: A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Cambridge University Press.
CollierDavid. 1976. Squatters and Oligarchs: Authoritarian Rule and Policy Change in Peru. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press.
De SotoHernando, Ghersi Enrique, and Ghibellini. 1989. The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World. New York: Harper and Row.
De FerrantiDavid, Perry Guillermo, Ferreira Francisco, and Walton Michael. 2004. Inequality in Latin America: Breaking with History? Washington, DC: World Bank.
DoshPaul. 2010. Demanding the Land: Urban Popular Movements in Peru and Ecuador, 19902005. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
EllermannAntje. 2009. States Against Migrants: Deportation in Germany and the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press.
GobelChristian. 2011. “Uneven Policy Implementation in Rural China.” China Journal 65 (1): 5376.
GoodfellowTom. 2015. “Taming the ‘Rogue’ Sector: Studying State Effectiveness in Africa through Informal Transport Politics.” Comparative Politics 47 (2): 127–47.
GordonSanford C., and Hafer Catherine. 2014. “Conditional Forbearance as an Alternative to Capture.” In Preventing Regulatory Capture: Special Interest Influence and How to Limit It, eds., Carpenter Daniel and Moss David A.. New York: Cambridge University Press, 208–39.
GrindleMerilee Serrill. 1996. Challenging the State: Crisis and Innovation in Latin America and Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press.
HollandAlisha C. 2015. “The Distributive Politics of Enforcement.” American Journal of Political Science 59 (2): 357–71.
HolstonJames. 2008. Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
HtunMala. 2003. Sex and the State: Abortion, Divorce, and the Family under Latin American Dictatorships and Democracies. New York: Cambridge University Press.
JaramilloMiguel. 2014. “The Incidence of Social Spending and Taxes in Peru.” Public Finance Review 42 (3): 391412.
KeyderÇağlar. 1999. Istanbul: Between the Global and the Local. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
LeviMargaret. 1988. Of Rule and Revenue. Berkeley: University of California Press.
LevitskySteven, and Murillo María Victoria. 2009. “Variation in Institutional Strength.” Annual Review of Political Science 12 (1): 115–33.
LiebermanEvan S. 2003. Race and Regionalism in the Politics of Taxation in Brazil and South Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press.
MahoneyJames, and Thelen Kathleen. 2010. “A Theory of Gradual Institutional Change.” In Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, and Power, eds. Mahoney James and Thelen Kathleen. New York: Cambridge University Press, 137.
MannMichael. 1984. “The Autonomous Power of the State: Its Origins, Mechanisms, and Results.” European Journal of Sociology 25 (2): 185213.
MéndezJuan, O'Donnell Guillermo, and Pinheiro Paulo Sérgio. 1999. The (Un)Rule of Law and the Underprivileged in Latin America. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press.
MinBrian, and Golden Miriam. 2014. “Electoral Cycles in Electricity Losses in India.” Energy Policy 65: 619–25.
NicholsAlbert L, and Zeckhauser Richard J. 1982. “Targeting Transfers through Restrictions on Recipients.” The American Economic Review 72 (2): 372–7.
NorthDouglass C. 1990. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. New York: Cambridge University Press.
O'BrienKevin, and Li Lianjiang. 1999. “Selective Policy Implementation in Rural China.” Comparative Politics 31 (2): 167–86.
O'DonnellGuillermo. 1993. “On the State, Democratization, and Some Conceptual Problems.” World Development 21 (8): 1355–69.
OnomaAto Kwamena. 2010. The Politics of Property Rights Institutions in Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press.
PolidanoCharles. 2000. “Measuring Public Sector Capacity.” World Development 28 (5): 805–22.
PopperKarl. 2002 [1935]. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. New York: Routledge Classics.
PribbleJennifer. 2015. “The Politics of Building Municipal Institutional Effectiveness in Chile.” Latin American Politics & Society 57 (3): 100–21.
RawlsJohn. 1999 [1971]. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
ResnickDanielle. 2013. Urban Poverty and Party Populism in African Democracies. New York: Cambridge University Press.
RobinsonJames A., and Verdier Thierry. 2013. “The Political Economy of Clientelism.” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 115 (2): 260–91.
RonconiLucas. 2010. “Enforcement and Compliance with Labor Regulations in Argentina.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 63 (4): 719–36.
ScottJames C. 1969. “Corruption, Machine Politics, and Political Change.” American Political Science Review 63 (4): 1142–58.
SkourasSpyros, and Christodoulakis Nicos. 2014. “Electoral Misgovernance Cycles: Evidence from Wildfires and Tax Evasion in Greece.” Public Choice 159 (3–4): 533–59.
SlaterDan, and Kim Diana. 2015. “Standoffish States: Nonliterate Leviathans in Southeast Asia.” TRaNS: Trans-Regional and National Studies of Southeast Asia 3 (1): 2544.
SunXin. 2015. “Selective Enforcement of Land Regulations: Why Large-Scale Violators Succeed.” The China Journal 74 (1): 6690.
TendlerJudith. 2002. “Small Firms, the Informal Sector, and the Devil's Deal.” Institute of Development Studies Bulletin 33 (3): 114.
WeylE. Glen. 2015. The Openness-Equality Trade-Off in Global Redistribution. Working paper.
WilkinsonSteven I. 2006. Votes and Violence: Electoral Competition and Ethnic Riots in India. New York: Cambridge University Press.
WilsonJames Q. 1980. The Politics of Regulation. New York: Basic Books.
WorkingE.J. 1927. “What Do Statistical ‘Demand Curves’ Show?Quarterly Journal of Economics 41 (2): 212–35.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Holland supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (381 KB)
381 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 70
Total number of PDF views: 867 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 2319 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.