Strategic Accountability: Evidence from Kenyan Local Authorities
with Brigitte Zimmerman
Using yearly fiscal data from Kenyan local governments from 2002‐2007 and electoral data from 2002 and 2007, we find evidence of performance-based voting in a decentralized system. After developing a theory of voting and politician behavior, we utilize a fractional logit Heckman selection model to demonstrate that voters reward public goods provision and punish private goods provision. However, we also provide suggestive evidence that local politicians are well aware of these pressures and inflate public goods expenditures immediately before elections. Furthermore, it appears that access to central government transfers, which facilitates these expenditures, is politicized and co-partisans are favored. The strategic and incentive‐responsive budgeting of local governments puts the true accountability gains of performance‐based voting into question.