Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 December 2019
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.