Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Norwegian University of Life Sciences, School of Economics and Business

No 12-2015: Exchanging fertilizer for votes?

Nina Bruvik Westberg ()
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Nina Bruvik Westberg: School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Postal: Norwegian University of Life Sciences, School of Economics and Business, P.O. Box 5003 NMBU, N-1432 ├ůs, Norway

Abstract: Several countries have made targeted input subsidy programs an integral part of their policies for improving food security. Given the programs' often centralized structure and targeting of private goods nation-wide, these may also serve as instruments for garnering electoral support. I investigate to what extent distributions from such a program was altered leading up to the 2009 Malawian presidential election, comparing the allocations of fertilizer vouchers in the last season prior to this relative to other seasons. I do not nd evidence of targeting at the incumbent's core supporters, whereas swing supporters receive on average more fertilizer vouchers in the 2008/09 season relative to other seasons. This increase comes at the expense of the main opponents' core supporters, whom receive on average fewer vouchers. These ndings add to the broader set of questions of whether targeted subsidies is the right approach for improving food security, and if so how.

Keywords: fertilizer subsidies; elections; Malawi

JEL-codes: D72; H53; O13; Q18

54 pages, June 3, 2015

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