Local institutional structure and clientelistic access to employment: the case of MGNREGS in three states of India

Publication type

Research Paper

Series Number



University of York Discussion Papers in Economics


Publication date

December 15, 2016


This work is a contribution, first, toward measuring and characterizing some features of rural clientelistic institutions and then toward exploring its impact on household access to an employment scheme (MGNREGS programme in India). We focus on patron-client relationship and the presence and intensity of that: i.e., on the nature and distribution of power in the rural society based on the data on personalized day-to-day interactions of the households residing in a village in economic, social and political spheres. We formulate a theoretical model to predict that the patrons use MGNREGS employment to secure political support of their respective clients. Using primary data that we collected from 36 sample villages in the states of Maharashtra, Orissa and (Eastern) Uttar Pradesh in India we (i) identify the presence of patron-client relationships with varying intensity, (ii) show that clients of elites have better access to MGNREGS employment than non-clients and (iii) a household in an elite village (i.e., a village where patron-client relationship is present), on average, has higher access to MGNREGS employment than a household in a non-elite village.




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