The Costs of Populism for the Bureaucracy and Government Performance: Evidence from Italian Municipalities

38 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2021

See all articles by Luca Bellodi

Luca Bellodi

Bocconi University

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University

Matia Vannoni

King’s College London

Date Written: March 12, 2021

Abstract

We study the consequences of populism on bureaucratic expertise and government performance. We use novel data on about 8,000 municipalities in Italy, over a period of 20 years, and we estimate the effect of electing a populist mayor with a close-election regression discontinuity design. We find that the election of a populist mayor leads to (1) higher turnover among top bureaucrats; (2) an increase in the probability of replacing expert with non-expert bureaucrats; (3) a decrease in the percentage of highly educated bureaucrats; (4) and lower performance overall. Moreover, we find evidence that the increased inefficiency of the bureaucracy is accompanied by proliferation of council and executive resolutions, in line with the recent literature on overproduction of laws and bureaucratic inefficiency.

Keywords: Bureaucracy, Turnover, Populist Politicians, Government Performance

JEL Classification: H11, H83, D73

Suggested Citation

Bellodi, Luca and Morelli, Massimo and Vannoni, Matia, The Costs of Populism for the Bureaucracy and Government Performance: Evidence from Italian Municipalities (March 12, 2021). BAFFI CAREFIN Centre Research Paper No. 2021-158, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3805897 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3805897

Luca Bellodi

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://lucabellodi.com

Massimo Morelli (Contact Author)

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Matia Vannoni

King’s College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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