This monograph surveys recent developments in the political economy
literature addressing the incentive problems of political decision
making, and helps to understand the causes of corruption and
bureaucratic inefficiency in countries that lack a constitutional
order. Using a principal-agent theoretical framework, the author
shows how corruption and patronage may reduce political
instability, thus enabling governments in weak states to provide
public goods which would otherwise be missing, even though such an
institutional arrangement is usually self-defeating in the long
run. The theoretical results are used to offer a stylized
interpretation of the political history of the Mexican state.
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