In this paper, we estimate the impact of dynastic families on local development in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab. Toward this purpose,we compile an original database on political genealogies, which includes information aboutthe personal and family characteristics of both elected representatives and the maincontenders in elections for the last one hundred years covering both elections held under colonial rule and Pakistan’s modern political existence. Using a close elections regression discontinuity design, we obtain several results. First, entrenched dynasts operating under conditions of competitive clientelism show worse development performance than nondynasts. This conclusion also holds when the effect of entrenched personal power, which measures the incumbency advantage of the individual election winners, is controlled for. Yet, it does not hold any more when the dynastic politician has won an election comfortably rather than by a close margin.
Second, the behavior of traditional elites, which are overwhelmingly represented among dynasts, does not erase the effect of dynasticism per se. Where it occurs, it is the conjunction of entrenched political power with a traditional family setup characterized by strongly hierarchical relationships that accounts for poor development . An interpretative story is offered that is inspired by the political theory of
economic backwardness of Acemoglu and Robinson as well as by a rich socioanthropological literature.