Political Turnover, Bureaucratic Turnover, and the Quality of Public Services


Akhtari, Mitra, Diana Moreira, and Laura Trucco. “Political Turnover, Bureaucratic Turnover, and the Quality of Public Services.” Conditional Acceptance, American Economic Review, Submitted.


We study how political turnover in mayoral elections in Brazil affects public service provision by local governments. Exploiting a regression discontinuity design for close elections, we find that munic- ipalities with a new party in office experience upheavals in the municipal bureaucracy: new personnel are appointed across multiple service sectors, and at both managerial and non-managerial levels. In education, the increase in the replacement rate of personnel in schools controlled by the municipal gov- ernment is accompanied by test scores that are .05-.08 standard deviations lower. In contrast, turnover of the mayor’s party does not impact local (non-municipal) schools. These findings suggest that political turnover can adversely affect the quality of public services when the bureaucracy is not shielded from the political process.

Last updated on 09/12/2021