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Businessman Candidates

Scott Gehlbach

University of Wisconsin-Madison; Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (CSID)

Konstantin Sonin

Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ekaterina Zhuravskaya

Paris School of Economics

June 24, 2010

American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 54, No. 3, pp. 718-736, July 2010

Why and when do businessmen run for public office rather than rely upon other means of influence? What are the implications of their participation for public policy? We show formally that "businessman candidacy'' and public policy are jointly determined by the institutional environment. When institutions that hold elected officials accountable to voters are strong, businessmen receive little preferential treatment and are disinclined to run for office. When such institutions are weak, businessmen can subvert policy irrespective of whether they hold office, but they may run for office to avoid the cost of lobbying elected officials. Evidence from Russian gubernatorial elections supports the model's predictions. Businessman candidates emerge in regions with low media freedom and government transparency, institutions that raise the cost of reneging on campaign promises. Among regions with weaker institutions, professional politicians crowd out businessmen when the rents from office are especially large.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: businessman candidates, political selection, immature democracies, special interest politics, political connections

JEL Classification: D21, H11, O17

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Date posted: July 20, 2006 ; Last revised: June 24, 2010

Suggested Citation

Gehlbach, Scott and Sonin, Konstantin and Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, Businessman Candidates (June 24, 2010). American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 54, No. 3, pp. 718-736, July 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=917778

Contact Information

Scott Gehlbach
University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )
1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-2391 (Phone)
Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (CSID)
Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, RI Moscow 119017
Konstantin Sonin
Higher School of Economics ( email )
20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
Ekaterina V. Zhuravskaya (Contact Author)
Paris School of Economics ( email )
48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
Feedback to SSRN

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