A candidate on the job market this year, Daniel Egel investigates the nature of patronage networks using a dataset of “ghost pupils” from districts in Yemen. For the past few decades, Yemeni tribes have been bought off by the state partially by the use of “ghost workers” such as doctors and teachers, who are “hired” from the tribes by the state, and paid, even though they do not work and indeed do not exist. Egel calculates a measure of the deviation between actual pupils in a district (based on census data) and the number of pupils reported to the education ministry by district governments. He finds that more diverse districts, having more tribes to pay off, tend to receive more patronage. He also sees no effect on this type of corruption from a 2001 devolution to local control of funding, suggesting that the common development suggestion of increasing local power in corrupt countries may not help (and indeed may aid) corruption.
“Tribal Diversity, Political Patronage, and the Yemeni Decentralization Experiment,” D. Egel (2009)