Working Paper Series
Ernesto Dal Bó
Who Becomes a Politican?
(), Frederico Finan
(), Olle Folke
(), Torsten Persson
() and Johanna Rickne
Abstract: Can a democracy attract competent leaders, while attaining
broad representation? Economic models suggest that free-riding incentives
and lower opportunity costs give the less competent a comparative advantage
at entering political life. Also, if elites have more human capital,
selecting on competence may lead to uneven representation. We examine
patterns of political selection among the universe of municipal politicians
in Sweden using extraordinarily rich data on competence traits and social
background for the entire population. We document four new facts: First,
politicians are on average signi cantly smarter and better leaders than the
population they represent. Second, the representation of social background,
whether measured by intergenerational earnings or social class, is
remarkably even. Third, there is at best a weak tradeo in selection between
competence and representation. Fourth, both material and intrinsic motives
matter in selection, as does screening by political parties.
Keywords: Political Selection; Political Representation; Family Background; Competence; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: H10; H70; (follow links to similar papers)
58 pages, September 15, 2016
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