Do Anti-Poverty Programs Sway Voters? Experimental Evidence from Uganda


Impactful policies may not lead to support for the political party that introduces them. In 2008, Uganda’s government encouraged groups of youth to submit proposals to start enterprises. Of 535 eligible groups, a random 265 received grants of nearly $400 per person. Prior work showed that, after four years, YOP raised employment by 17% and earnings by 38%. Here we show that recipients were no more likely to support the ruling party in elections. Rather, recipients slightly increased campaigning and voting for the opposition. Potential mechanisms include program misattribution, group socialization, and financial independence freeing voters from transactional voting.

forthcoming in Review of Economics & Statistics