80 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2017 Last revised: 21 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 15, 2017
This paper studies the importance of patronage in public sector employment and investigates how patronage affects selection into government jobs, in the context of Brazilian local governments. We construct a unique dataset on the labor market careers of more than 2,000,000 Brazilian political supporters, namely local political candidates and campaign donors. We use a regression discontinuity design that leverages very competitive municipal elections to identify a sizable presence of patronage in public sector employment: supporting the winning party increases by 39% the probability of having a public sector job relative to the pre-election period, with the effect being large for both local candidates and donors and widespread throughout the entire public sector hierarchy. We show that patronage cannot be solely explained by a politician’s desire to achieve a high degree of ideological alignment between the executive power and the higher levels of the bureaucracy, nor by a politician’s superior ability to screen members of her network along hard-to-measure dimensions of quality. Consistent with the interpretation of patronage as a quid pro quo relationship between supporters and politicians, the reward to supporters is proportional to the amount of support provided. Patronage leads to the selection of public sector workers who are less qualified both in terms of education and of a measure of individual ability derived from individual private earnings. An increase in the extent of patronage within a municipality is correlated with significantly higher growth in municipal public sector personnel but with worse provision of education, as measured by test scores of students enrolled in municipal public schools.
Keywords: patronage, clientelism, politicians, bureaucrats, campaign contributions, political connections
JEL Classification: D72, D73, H40, H70, H83, J24, J30, J45, O10, O43
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Colonnelli, Emanuele and Teso, Edoardo and Prem, Mounu, Patronage in the Allocation of Public Sector Jobs (July 15, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2942495 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2942495