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Tribal Diversity, Political Patronage and the Yemeni Decentralization Experiment

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm

On Tuesday, February 2, 2010, the Center for Global Development presented a brown bag seminar on Tribal Diversity, Political Patronage and the Yemeni Decentralization Experiment featuring Daniel Egel, a Ph.D. candiate at the University of California, Berkeley.

Paper abstract: Patronage is a tool used throughout the world to reward political allies. In this paper I create a dataset of Yemeni tribes to explore their role in an educational patronage network that accounts for upwards of 6% of the entire Yemeni government budget. My analysis has two key results. First, conditional on a rich set of controls, I find that the number of tribes has a significant impact on the quantity of patronage. This impact is negative between regions, though positive within regions, as regions with more tribes have less patronage while sub-regions with more tribes have more patronage. The contrast between these effects illustrates the differing influence of tribes in local and national politics. Second, I find no evidence that a recent decentralization reform affected this patronage network. The paper provides insight into how pre-Islamic institutions have an important role in the development outcomes of the Muslim Middle East and why decentralization reforms proposed for countries similar to Yemen, such as Afghanistan and Somalia, may be ineffective in weakening the power of local elites.

Read Tribal Diversity, Political Patronage and the Yemeni Decentralization Experiment (pdf, 3M)