Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Patronage, Trust, and State Capacity: The Historical Trajectories of Clientelism


What explains different levels of clientelism across countries? Why do some politicians deliver clientelistic goods to their electoral constituencies, and why do some voters demand them? This article focuses on the historical origins of trust in states and shows that they have a lasting impact on contemporary patterns of patronage. The shift to programmatic politics reflects a historical transition from personalized trust in politicians to trust in impersonal bureaucracies tasked by political parties to implement policy. Past experience with public bureaucracy informs the expectations of voters and parties regarding the performance of the state and its ability to provide public goods, which in turn shape the degree of clientelistic exchange across societies. To capture state capacity, the authors focus on the critical juncture before the expansion of women's suffrage, and use the ability of public bureaucracies to reduce infant mortality in the interwar period as a proxy for historical state capacity and as an instrument to predict trust. Macrodata from eightyeight electoral democracies and microdata from the most recent wave of the World Value Survey provide supportive evidence for the theory.

Recommend this journal

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

World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Bustikova supplementary material
Bustikova supplementary material 1

 PDF (549 KB)
549 KB
Supplementary Materials

Bustikova supplementary material
Bustikova supplementary material 1

 Word (21 KB)
21 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 344 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 911 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 6th March 2017 - 23rd August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.