This paper studies patronage – the use of public sector jobs to reward political supporters of the party in power – in Brazilian local governments. We use longitudinal data on the universe of Brazilian public sector employees over the 1997-2014 period, matched with information on more than 2,000,000 political supporters of Brazilian local parties. Using a regression discontinuity design that generates exogenous variation in individuals’ connection to the party in power, we first document the presence of significant political favoritism in the allocation of jobs throughout the entire Brazilian public sector hierarchy. Being a political supporter of the party in power increases the probability of having a public sector job by 10.5 percentage points (a 47% increase). Leveraging detailed information on supporters’ and jobs’ characteristics, we then show that patronage is the leading explanation behind this favoritism, with jobs in the public sector being used as reward for political supporters. We find that patronage has significant real consequences for selection to public employment, as the amount of support provided to the party in power substitutes qualifications as determinant of hiring decisions. Finally, consistent with this negative impact on the quality of the selected public workers, we present evidence suggesting that patronage practices are associated with a worse provision of public services.
We characterize hiring and firing patterns of state-owned firms in Brazil, as well as their organizational and hierarchical structures. Using multiple empirical strategies, we compare state-owned firms to privately-owned firms operating in the same industry, and explore implications for various political theories of the firm. We then move to employee-level analysis to characterize "political employees" and their career trajectory over the 1992-2014 period.
Members of the corporate elites are among the most important individual donors to U.S. political campaigns. As a consequence, a substantial share of campaign money comes from a group of donors who is potentially interested both in supporting candidates on the basis of purely ideological considerations and in ensuring that their firms have access to relevant legislators. In this paper, I investigate the motives that drive the contribution behavior of the corporate elites using an original dataset covering all the campaign contributions made by 24,758 corporate directors of U.S. public firms in the 2000-2012 period, including donations made in periods without a board appointment. Focusing on Congressional races, I show that corporate directors have patterns of contributions that are different from those of standard individual donors, directing larger shares of their donations to politicians with a greater ability to deliver benefits to their firms. In order to disentangle personal traits that directly influence directors’ contribution behavior from attempts to gain access to legislators, I leverage the panel nature of my dataset and look at within-individual variation across election cycles. I find that becoming a corporate director leads to an increase in the amount contributed that is mostly directed towards incumbents, candidates who will end up winning the election, and members of Congressional committees that have oversight over the director’s industry. Taken together, these results are consistent with corporate elites’ contribution behavior being at least partly motivated by the desire to seek access to and influence policymakers.
Using new cross-country survey and experimental data, we investigate how beliefs about intergenerational mobility affect preferences for redistribution in France, Italy, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S.. Americans are more optimistic than Europeans about social mobility. Our randomized treatment shows pessimistic information about mobility and increases support for redistribution, mostly for “equality of opportunity” policies. We find a strong political polarization. Left-wing respondents are more pessimistic about mobility, their preferences for redistribution are correlated with their mobility perceptions, and they support more redistribution after seeing pessimistic information. None of these apply to right-wing respondents, possibly because they see the government as a “problem” and not as the “solution.”
Can demographic shocks affect the long-run evolution of female labor force participation and gender norms? This paper traces current variation in women’s participation in the labor force within Sub-Saharan Africa to the emergence of a female-biased sex ratio during the centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. This historical shock affected the division of labor along gender lines in the remaining African population, as women substituted for the missing men by taking up areas of work that were traditionally male tasks. By exploiting variation in the degree to which different ethnic groups were affected by the transatlantic slave trade, I show that women whose ancestors were more exposed to this shock are today more likely to be in the labor force, have lower levels of fertility, and are more likely to participate in household decisions. The marriage market and the cultural transmission of internal norms across generations represent important mechanisms explaining this long-run persistence.