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

89 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2014 Last revised: 27 Apr 2017

See all articles by Mitra Akhtari

Mitra Akhtari

Harvard University

Diana Moreira

Harvard University

Laura Trucco

Development Research Institute, NYU

Date Written: April 25, 2017

Abstract

We study how political party turnover in mayoral elections in Brazil affects the provision of public education. Exploiting a regression discontinuity design for close elections, we find that municipalities with a new party in office have test scores that are 0.05–0.08 standard deviations lower than comparable municipalities with no change in the political party. Party turnover leads to a sharp increase in the replacement rate of headmasters and teachers in schools controlled by the municipality. In contrast, we show that turnover in the political party of the mayor does not impact the replacement rate of school personnel or student test scores for local (non-municipal) schools that are not controlled by the municipal government. These findings suggest that polit- ical turnover in Brazilian municipalities negatively impacts student outcomes through political discretion over the municipal education bureaucracy. Political turnover can adversely affect the quality of public service provision in environments where the bureaucracy is not shielded from the political process.

JEL Classification: H83, I21, J45, O15

Suggested Citation

Akhtari, Mitra and Moreira, Diana and Trucco, Laura, Political Turnover, Bureaucratic Turnover, and the Quality of Public Services (April 25, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2538354 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2538354

Mitra Akhtari

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Diana Moreira

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Laura Trucco (Contact Author)

Development Research Institute, NYU ( email )

14A Washington Mews
New York City, NY 10003
United States

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