Accountability from Within: Politically Insulated Bureaucrats and Incumbent Rent-Seeking
A growing literature shows that elections are a poor mechanism to hold corrupt incumbents accountable. In that context, can institutional checks and balances compensate for the shortcomings of elections in fighting corruption? This paper examines a possible source of institutional accountability: the presence of politically insulated civil servants with oversight authority over the actions of incumbents. I examine the effect of politically insulated bureaucrats on a type of incumbent rent-seeking: the use of political budget cycles. To do so, I implement a regression discontinuity that takes advantage of the population-based rule that assigns civil servants to Spanish municipalities. I report consistent evidence that politically insulated civil servants do not discourage incumbents from engaging in rent seeking. This finding offers a pessimistic view of the capacity of institutional accountability mechanisms to discipline politicians.
Date: 9 March 2018, 12:15 (Friday, 8th week, Hilary 2018)
Venue: Manor Road Building, Manor Road OX1 3UQ
Venue Details: Seminar Room A
Speaker: Pablo Fernandez-Vazquez (Juan March - Carlos III Institute)
Organising department: Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR)
Organisers: Dr Robin Harding (University of Oxford), Dr Radoslaw Zubek (University of Oxford), Professor Petra Schleiter (University of Oxford), Dr David Doyle (University of Oxford)
Organiser contact email address:
Part of: Politics Research Colloquium
Booking required?: Not required
Audience: Members of the University only
Editors: Holly Omand, Minna Lehtinen