Patronage in the Allocation of Public Sector Jobs
89 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2017 Last revised: 20 Nov 2017
Date Written: October 30, 2017
This paper studies patronage - the use of public sector jobs to reward political supporters of the party in power - in Brazilian local governments. We exploit longitudinal data on the universe of Brazilian public sector employees over the 1997-2014 period, matched with information on more than 2,000,000 political supporters of Brazilian local parties. Using a regression discontinuity design that generates exogenous variation in individuals' connection to the party in power, we first document the presence of significant political favoritism in the allocation of jobs throughout the entire Brazilian public sector hierarchy: being a political supporter of the party in power increases the probability of having a public sector job by 10.5 percentage points (a 47% increase). Leveraging detailed information on supporters' and jobs' characteristics, we then show that patronage is the leading explanation behind this favoritism: jobs in the public sector are used as reward for political supporters. We find that patronage has significant real consequences for selection to public employment, as the amount of support provided to the party in power substitutes qualifications as determinant of hiring decisions. Finally, consistent with this negative impact on the quality of the selected public workers, we present evidence suggesting that patronage practices are associated with a worse provision of public services.
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