Elections, Ideology, and Turnover in the U.S. Federal Government

63 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016

See all articles by Alexander Bolton

Alexander Bolton

Emory University

John M. de Figueiredo

Duke University School of Law; Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

David E. Lewis

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science; Vanderbilt University - Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2016

Abstract

A defining feature of public sector employment is the regular change in elected leadership. Yet, we know little about how elections influence careers. We describe how elections can alter policy outputs and disrupt civil servants’ influence over agency decisions, potentially shaping their career choices. We use new data on federal career records between 1988 and 2011 to evaluate how elections influence turnover decisions. We find large levels of stability in the civil service but also pockets of employees that are responsive to presidential transitions. Senior career employees in agencies with views divergent from the president’s appear most affected. In the first three years of an administration, political factors such as elections, policy priorities, and political ideological differences, are estimated to increase turnover in the senior civil service by 30.9% in some agencies. We also find suggestive evidence that vacancies in high-level positions after elections may induce lower-level executives to stay longer in hopes of advancing.

Suggested Citation

Bolton, Alexander and de Figueiredo, John M. and Lewis, David E., Elections, Ideology, and Turnover in the U.S. Federal Government (December 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22932. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2883969

Alexander Bolton (Contact Author)

Emory University ( email )

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John M. De Figueiredo

Duke University School of Law ( email )

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Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

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David E. Lewis

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

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United States
615-322-6222 (Phone)

Vanderbilt University - Law School

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

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