From Public Works to Infrastructure: the Changing Politics of Construction in Latin America

Event

Peterson Hall Room 116, 3460 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0E6, CA

"From Public Works to Infrastructure: the Changing Politics of Construction in Latin America"

A guest lecture by Professor Alisha Holland of Princeton University.

Abstract:  Conventional wisdom is that politicians want to inaugurate infrastructure and employ their constituents. Yet many projects are not completed during their time in office. Why would a politician invest in them? I argue that infrastructure increasingly is about contract clientelism in which politicians assign contracts in exchange for campaign donations. I use administrative data and qualitative interviews from Colombia and Peru to show: (1) a decline in political control over hiring, (2) the rise of electoral cycles in contract assignment, and (3) growing campaign donations from construction firms and investors. The takeaway is that infrastructure is attractive to myopic politicians to provide cash for vote buying.