Protest matters: The effects of protests on economic redistribution

A protester waves a flag on an empty road during a protest against a fuel subsidy removal in Lagos January 9, 2012. Thousands of Nigerians took to the streets across Africa's top oil producing nation on Monday, launching an indefinite nationwide strike to protest against the axing of fuel subsidies.  REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS ENERGY BUSINESS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)


Can citizen-led protests lead to meaningful economic redistribution and nudge governments to increase redistributive efforts of fiscal resources? We study the effects of protests on fiscal redistribution using evidence from Nigeria. We digitized 26 years of public finance data from 1988 to 2016 to examine the effects of protests on intergovernmental transfers. We find that protests increase transfers to protesting regions, but only in areas that are politically aligned with disbursing governments. Protesters also face increased police violence. Non-protest conflicts do not affect transfers and protests do not affect non-transfer revenue. The results show that protests can influence fiscal redistribution.

Download the full working paper