Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-p2v8j Total loading time: 0.001 Render date: 2024-05-20T14:02:49.027Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

(A)Political Constituency Development Funds: Evidence from Pakistan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2019

Rabia Malik*
Department of Political Science, Lahore University of Management Sciences
*Corresponding author. E-mail:


Most of the distributive politics literature focuses on how incumbent politicians allocate development resources in the absence of spending rules, and on the politicization of rules when they do determine distribution. What is less clear is whether politically neutral spending rules lead to neutral spending. Using new data on a long-running federal development fund and elections from Pakistan in a regression discontinuity design, the author presents strong evidence that the ruling party manipulated fund distribution to disproportionately benefit its co-partisans and punish the weakest opposition. Considering various factors, partisan bias is the most plausible explanation. These findings are important not only because the purpose of rules-based funds is to prevent politicized distribution but also because they have implications for development patterns and for using such funds to address questions about legislator effort and patronage patterns within constituencies, which requires assuming that legislators do receive their share of funds in the first place.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Afzal, M (2014) Do barriers to candidacy reduce political competition? Evidence from a bachelor's degree requirement for legislators in Pakistan. Public Choice 161(1–2), 5172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Albouy, D (2013) Partisan representation in Congress and the geographic distribution of Federal funds. Review of Economics and Statistics 95(1), 127141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ansolabehere, S and Snyder, JM (2006) Party control of state government and the distribution of public expenditures. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics 108(4), 547569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arulampalam, W et al. (2009) Electoral goals and center-state transfers: a theoretical model and empirical evidence from India. Journal of Development Economics 88(1), 103119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Asher, S and Novosad, P (2017) Politics and Local Economic Growth: Evidence from India. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 9(1), 229273.Google Scholar
Balla, SJ et al. (2002) Partisanship, blame avoidance, and the distribution of legislative pork. American Journal of Political Science 46(3), 515525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Banful, AB (2011) Do formula-based intergovernmental transfer mechanisms eliminate politically motivated targeting? Evidence from Ghana. Journal of Development Economics 96(2), 380390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
BBC (2002) Musharraf wins huge backing. 1 May. Available from (accessed 15 July 2015).Google Scholar
Bergvall, D et al. (2006) Intergovernmental transfers and decentralised public spending. OECD Journal on Budgeting 5(4), 111158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berry, CR, Burden, BC and Howell, WG (2010) The president and the distribution of federal spending. American Political Science Review 104(04), 783799.Google Scholar
Blair, H (2017) Constituency development funds in India. Economic & Political Weekly 52(31), 99.Google Scholar
Boadway, RW and Shah, A (2007) Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers: Principles and Practices. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Bohlken, AT (2018) Targeting ordinary voters or political elites? Why pork is distributed along partisan lines in India. American Journal of Political Science 62(4), 796812.Google Scholar
Calonico, S et al. (2018) “Package ‘rdrobust’.” R reference manual. Available from Scholar
Calonico, S, Cattaneo, MD and Titiunik, R (2014) Robust nonparametric confidence intervals for regression-discontinuity designs. Econometrica 82(6), 22952326.Google Scholar
Caughey, D and Sekhon, JS (2011) Elections and the regression discontinuity design: lessons from close U.S. House races, 1942–2008. Political Analysis 19(4), 385408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DAWN (2012) Pakistan Fiscal Budget 2012–2013. Available from Scholar
de la Cuesta, B and Imai, K (2016) Misunderstandings about the regression discontinuity design in the study of close elections. Annual Review of Political Science 19, 375–396.Google Scholar
Eggers, AC et al. (2015) On the validity of the regression discontinuity design for estimating electoral effects: new evidence from over 40,000 close races. American Journal of Political Science 59(1), 259274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eggers, AC and Hainmueller, J (2009) MPs for sale? Returns to office in postwar British politics. American Political Science Review 103(4), 513533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferraz, C and Finan, F (2008) Exposing corrupt politicians: the effects of Brazil's publicly released audits on electoral outcomes. Quarterly Journal of Economics 123, 703745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Golden, MA and Picci, L (2008) Pork-barrel politics in postwar Italy, 1953–94. American Journal of Political Science 52(2), 268289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gutiérrez-Romero, R (2013) Decentralisation, accountability and the 2007 MP elections in Kenya. The Journal of Development Studies 49(1), 7294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hall, AB (2015) What happens when extremists win primaries? American Political Science Review 109(01), 1842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harris, JA and Posner, DN (2019) (Under what conditions) do politicians reward their supporters? Evidence from Kenya's constituencies development fund. American Political Science Review 113(1), 123139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jensenius, FR and Chhibber, P (2016) Privileging one's own? Voting patterns and politicized spending in India. Working Paper.Google Scholar
Keefer, P and Khemani, S (2009) When do legislators pass on pork? The role of political parties in determining legislator effort. American Political Science Review 103(1), 99112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Khemani, S (2003) Partisan Politics and Intergovernmental Transfers in India, vol. 3016. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Lazarus, J (2010) Giving the people what they want? The distribution of earmarks in the US House of Representatives. American Journal of Political Science 54(2), 338353.Google Scholar
Lee, DS (2008) Randomized experiments from non-random selection in US House elections. Journal of Econometrics 142(2), 675697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lee, DS and Lemieux, T (2010) Regression discontinuity designs in economics. Journal of Economic Literature 48, 281355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lee, FE (2003) Geographic politics in the US House of Representatives: coalition building and distribution of benefits. American Journal of Political Science 47(4), 714728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levitt, SD and Poterba, JM (1999) Congressional distributive politics and state economic performance. Public Choice 99(1–2), 185216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Magaloni, B (2006) Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and Its Demise in Mexico. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Malik, R (2019) “Replication Data for: (A)political Constituency Development Funds: Evidence from Pakistan”,, Harvard Dataverse, V1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McCrary, J (2008) Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: a density test. Journal of Econometrics 142(2), 698714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pal, R and Das, A (2010) A scrutiny of the MP-LADs in India: who is it for? Economic and Political Weekly 45(2), 6368.Google Scholar
Rodden, J and Wilkinson, S (2004) The shifting political economy of redistribution in the Indian federation. Unpublished Paper. Available from Scholar
Schady, NR (2000) Picking the Poor: Indicators for Geographic Targeting in Peru, vol. 2477. Washington, DC: World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Solé-Ollé, A and Sorribas-Navarro, P (2008) The effects of partisan alignment on the allocation of intergovernmental transfers. Differences-in-differences estimates for Spain. Journal of Public Economics 92(12), 23022319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Timmons, JF and Broid, D (2013) The political economy of municipal transfers: evidence from Mexico. Publius: The Journal of Federalism 43(4), 551579.Google Scholar
Tshangana, AH (2010) Constituency development funds: scoping paper. Cell 83(280), 2759.Google Scholar
Tsubura, M (2013) The Politics of Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) in Comparative Perspective. Available from Scholar
Veiga, LG and Pinho, MM (2007) The political economy of intergovernmental grants: evidence from a maturing democracy. Public Choice 133(3–4), 457477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ward, H and John, P (1999) Targeting benefits for electoral gain: constituency marginality and the distribution of grants to English local authorities. Political Studies 47(1), 3252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yasin, A (2017) Each NA constituency gets Rs200m development funds. Available from Scholar
Supplementary material: Link
Supplementary material: File

Malik supplementary material

Malik supplementary material 1

Download Malik supplementary material(File)
File 26.4 KB
Supplementary material: PDF

Malik supplementary material

Malik supplementary material 2

Download Malik supplementary material(PDF)
PDF 734.8 KB