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

Citation:

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

Abstract:

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