Working for the Machine: Patronage Jobs and Political Services in Argentina

  • Oliveros V
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Conventional wisdom posits that patronage jobs are distributed to supporters in exchange for political services. But why would public employees comply with the agreement and provide political services after receiving the job? Departing from existing explanations, I argue that patronage employees engage in political activities because their jobs are tied to their patrons' political survival. Supporters' jobs will be maintained by the incumbent, but not by the opposition. Supporters, then, have incentives to help the incumbent, which makes their original commitment to provide political services a credible one. Using survey experiments embedded in a survey of 1,200 Argentine public employees, I show that patronage employees are involved in political activities and that they believe their jobs are tied to the political success of the incumbent.




Oliveros, V. (2020). Working for the Machine: Patronage Jobs and Political Services in Argentina. Comparative Politics, 53(3), 381–427.

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