Research and Publications

New article on construction informality in Land Use Policy, co-authored by Dorina Pojani

Incumbent governments commonly increase public expenditures prior to elections in order to curry favor with voters and boost their chances of retaining office. This study, set in Albania, focuses on a non-fiscal approach to winning votes: condoning, or at least tolerating, informal construction activities in the residential sector prior to elections. We term this approach ‘election-driven informality’ (EDI). This study provides longitudinal statistical evidence for EDI using a proxy indicator for informal construction. We hypothesize and prove that EDI is a reality rather than a mere perception – primarily for the 2017 election. That was when the government’s enforcement capacity in the construction sector was effective outside the election period. In a context where there is little moral value attached to law abidance, businesses or households that engage in informal economic activities might perceive a tolerant government as “magnanimous” and might be persuaded to support it in upcoming elections. From government’s perspective, EDI presents an opportunity for a version of “pork barrel” politics where “tolerance” is applied selectively or differentially to households, businesses, or whole regions.

Title: Informal construction as political currency: A theory of ‘election-driven informality’

Authors: Drini Imami, Endrit Lami, Dorina Pojani

Journal: Land Use Policy