Tribal heterogeneity and the allocation of publicly provided goods: Evidence from Yemen

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Journal of Development Economics 101,228–232

This paper examines how tribes, the dominant political structure in rural areas of many developing countries, can affect the allocation of publicly provided goods. I create a dataset containing more than 4000 unique Yemeni local tribes and study their relationship with the public provision of educational goods. I demonstrate that areas with greater tribal heterogeneity receive larger allocations of publicly provided teachers and classrooms; I find evidence that this result reflects tribes' roles in influencing both political patronage from the state and targeted development transfers from development donors. This result, while different from most previous studies, reflects the nature of the publicly provided good being studied which is locally excludable precisely along the local tribal lines used for calculating heterogeneity. These results may offer generalizable insight into a variety of other developing country contexts where access to publicly provided goods is controlled or influenced by local groups.