Studies in Comparative International Development

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 300–323 | Cite as

Enforcement Process Tracing: Forbearance and Dilution in Urban Colombia and Turkey

  • Tuğba Bozçağa
  • Alisha C. HollandEmail author


Cities are complex regulatory environments. Attempts to regulate urban behavior create opportunities for politicians to manipulate enforcement to win votes and reward supporters. While some politicians choose not to enforce regulations, or forbearance, others undercut their intent, or dilution. Empirical research on enforcement has lagged behind due to the identification challenges in distinguishing weak state capacity from political manipulations. We develop a structured approach to process tracing that follows enforcement decisions sequentially across bureaucracies and specifies statistical distributions as counterfactuals to identify the causes of limited enforcement. We illustrate these strategies through original data on enforcement against squatters in urban Colombia and the provision of building permits in urban Turkey. Enforcement process tracing helps to document a form of distributive politics that is common to cities in the developing world.


Informality Informal sector Enforcement Urban politics 


  1. Amengual M. Politicized enforcement: labor and environmental regulation in Argentina. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2015.Google Scholar
  2. Amengual M, Dargent E. Enforcement: integrating politics with limited state capacity. Working Paper. 2018Google Scholar
  3. Beach D, Pedersen RB. Process-tracing methods: foundations and guidelines. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker G. Crime and punishment: an economic approach. J Polit Econ. 1968;76(2):169–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker G, Stigler G. Law enforcement, malfeasance, and the compensation of enforcers. J Leg Stud. 1974;3(1):1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bennett A, Checkel JT. Process tracing: from metaphor to analytic tool. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergman M. Tax evasion and the rule of law in Latin America: the political culture of cheating and compliance in Argentina and Chile: Pennsylvania State University Press; 2009.Google Scholar
  8. Björkman L. Pipe politics, contested waters: embedded infrastructures of millennial Mumbai: Duke University Press; 2015.Google Scholar
  9. Borg MJ, Parker KF. Mobilizing law in urban areas: the social structure of homicide clearance rates. Law & Society Review. 2001;35(2):435–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brinks DM. The judicial response to police killings in Latin America: inequality and the rule of law. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brollo F, Kaufmann K, La Ferrara E. The political economy of program enforcement: evidence from Brazil. CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11964. 2017. Google Scholar
  12. Buenker JD. The urban political machine and the seventeenth amendment. J Am Hist. 1969;56(2):305–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burgess R, Olken BA, Sieber S. The political economy of deforestation in the tropics. Q J Econ. 2012;127(4):1707–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Caldeira T. City of walls: crime, segregation, and citizenship in. São Paulo: University of California Press; 2000.Google Scholar
  15. Camargo A, Hurtado A. La Urbanización Informal En Bogotá: Panorama a Partir Del Observatorio. Colombia: Bogotá; 2011.Google Scholar
  16. Casaburi L, Troiano U. Ghost-house busters: the electoral response to a large anti tax evasion program. Q J Econ. 2015;Google Scholar
  17. Chubb J. The social bases of an urban political machine: the case of Palermo. Polit Sci Q. 1981;96(1):107–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chubb J. Patronage, power and poverty in southern Italy: a tale of two cities: Cambridge University Press; 1982.Google Scholar
  19. Collier D. Understanding process tracing. PS: Polit Sci Polit. 2011;44(4):823–30.Google Scholar
  20. Collier D, Brady HE. Rethinking social inquiry: diverse tools, shared standards. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 2010.Google Scholar
  21. Comptroller. Gestión adelantada por la administración distrital en el manejo de los cerros orientales. Bogotá, Colombia: Contraloría; 2004.Google Scholar
  22. Cross J. Informal politics: street vendors and the state in Mexico City. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press; 1998.Google Scholar
  23. Culpepper PD. Quiet politics and business power: corporate control in Europe and Japan. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dargent E, Urteaga M. Respuesta Estatal Por Presiones Externas: Los Determinantes Del Fortalecimiento Estatal Frente Al Boom Del Oro En El Perú (2004–2015). Revista de ciencia política. 2016;36(3):655–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dimitrov MK. Piracy and the state: the politics of intellectual property rights in China: Cambridge University Press; 2009.Google Scholar
  26. DNP. Suelo Y Vivienda Para Hogares de Bajos Ingresos. In: Bogotá. Colombia: Departamento Nacional de Planeación; 2007.Google Scholar
  27. Dosh P. Demanding the land: urban popular movements in Peru and Ecuador, 1990–2005: Penn State Press; 2010.Google Scholar
  28. Esen B, Gumuscu S. Rising competitive authoritarianism in Turkey. Third World Q. 2016;37(9):1581–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fischer B. A poverty of rights: citizenship and inequality in twentieth-century Rio de Janeiro: Stanford University Press; 2008.Google Scholar
  30. Gabaix X. Power laws in economics and finance. Annu Rev Econ. 2009;1:255–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gallagher J. The last mile problem: activists, advocates, and the struggle for justice in domestic courts. Comp Polit Stud. 2017;50(12):1595–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gingerich DW. Political institutions and party-directed corruption in South America: stealing for the team. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goodfellow T. Taming the ‘rogue’ sector: studying state effectiveness in Africa through informal transport politics. Comp Polit. 2015;47(2):127–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hall PA. Systematic process analysis: when and how to use it. Eur Polit Sci. 2008;7:304–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Holland AC. The distributive politics of enforcement. Am J Polit Sci. 2015;59(2):357–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Holland AC. Forbearance. Am Polit Sci Rev. 2016;110(2):232–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Holland AC. Forbearance as redistribution: the politics of informal welfare in Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hummel C. Disobedient markets: street vendors, enforcement, and state intervention in collective action. Comp Polit Stud. 2017;50(11):1524–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Levitsky S, Murillo MV. Variation in institutional strength. Annu Rev Polit Sci. 2009;12(1):115–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mahoney J, Thelen KA. Advances in comparative-historical analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Markus S. Property, predation, and protection: piranha capitalism in Russia and Ukraine. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Min B, Golden M. Electoral cycles in electricity losses in India. Energy Policy. 2014;65:619–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Onoma AK. The politics of property rights institutions in Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2010.Google Scholar
  44. Post AE. Foreign and domestic investment in Argentina: the politics of privatized infrastructure. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Resnick D. Urban poverty and party populism in African democracies: Cambridge University Press; 2013.Google Scholar
  46. Rosenfeld B, Imai K, Shapiro JN. An empirical validation study of popular survey methodologies for sensitive questions. Am J Polit Sci. 2016;60(3):783–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sinha A. Rethinking the developmental state model: divided leviathan and subnational comparisons in India. Comp Polit. 2003;35(4):459–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Skouras S, Christodoulakis N. Electoral misgovernance cycles: evidence from wildfires and tax evasion in Greece. Public Choice. 2014;159(3):533–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Slater, Dan, and Diana Kim. 2015. Standoffish states: nonliterate leviathans in Southeast Asia. TRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia 3(1): 25–44.Google Scholar
  50. Sun X. Selective enforcement of land regulations: why large-scale violators succeed. The China J. 2015;74(1):66–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tendler J. Small firms, the informal sector, and the devil’s deal. Inst Dev Stud Bull. 2002;33(3):1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Treisman D. What have we learned about the causes of corruption from ten years of cross-national empirical research? Annu Rev Political Sci. 2007;10:211–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tsai LL. Constructive noncompliance. Comp Polit. 2015;47(3):253–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van Evera, Stephen.Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 1997Google Scholar
  55. Weinstein L. Mumbai’s development mafias: globalization, organized crime and land development. Int J Urban Reg Res. 2008;32(1):22–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of PoliticsPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations