Political Careers or Career Politicians?

28 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2007 Last revised: 26 Oct 2022

See all articles by Andrea Mattozzi

Andrea Mattozzi

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Antonio Merlo

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; Rice University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2007


Two main career paths are prevalent among politicians in modern democracies: there are career politicians (i.e., politicians who work in the political sector until retirement), and political careers (i.e., there are politicians who leave politics before retirement and work in the private sector). In this paper, we propose a dynamic equilibrium model of the careers of politicians in an environment with a private sector and a political sector, where individuals are heterogeneous with respect to their market ability and political skills. Our analysis provides an explanation for the existence of career politicians and individuals with political careers, and their motivations. We also investigate the effects of monetary incentives and other features of the political-economic environment on the quality of politicians and their careers. We show that an increase in the salary a politician receives while in office decreases the average quality of individuals who become politicians, decreases turnover in office, and may either decrease or increase the average quality of career politicians.

Suggested Citation

Mattozzi, Andrea and Merlo, Antonio M., Political Careers or Career Politicians? (February 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w12921, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=964884

Andrea Mattozzi (Contact Author)

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )


Antonio M. Merlo

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
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HOME PAGE: http://www.ssc.upenn.edu/~merloa

Rice University ( email )

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