Incumbency Effects and Political Careers: Evidence from Brazil

24 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2017

Date Written: March 15, 2014


Incumbents have a potential advantage not only when running for reelection, but also when pursing other political offices. So far, the literature has mostly ignored these effects. We use evidence from Brazilian elections to show that this `extended incumbency advantage' is an important political phenomenon. Being elected for one office has effects beyond reelection probabilities, it affects the duration of a politician's careers, and the odds of moving up to more influential political offices. The data set we use to illustrate these points is a contribution of its own. We have compiled a panel with all electoral results (from local council to President) between 1994 and 2010. Furthermore, we show that mayoral incumbency advantage has changed over time and suffers from strong presidential coat-tail effects; that incumbency advantage among local councilors is particular strong and robust in the North-East and in smaller municipalities; and that that there is a clear and stable incumbency advantage among state legislators. Finally, we show that most local politicians are unable to move on the state and national stage, except for a sub-sample of municipalities, which we describe in detail.

Keywords: Incumbency Advantage, Political Careers, Regression Discontinuity Design, Mayors, Brazil

Suggested Citation

de Magalhaes, Leandro and Hirvonen, Salomo, Incumbency Effects and Political Careers: Evidence from Brazil (March 15, 2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Leandro De Magalhaes (Contact Author)

Bristol University ( email )

8 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 ITN
United Kingdom

Salomo Hirvonen

University of Bristol ( email )

University of Bristol,
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

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