We study the consequences of populism for economic performance and the quality of bureaucracy. When voters lose trust in representative democracy, populists strategically supply unconditional policy commitments that are easier to monitor for voters. When in power, populists try to implement their policy commitments regardless of financial constraints and expert assessment of the feasibility of their policies, worsening government economic performance and dismantling resistance from expert bureaucrats. With novel data on more than 8,000 Italian municipalities covering more than 20 years, 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 smaller repayments of debts, a larger share of procurement contracts with cost overruns, higher turnover among top bureaucrats – driven by forced rather than voluntary departures – and a sharp decrease in the percentage of graduate bureaucrats.

A costly commitment: populism, economic performance, and the quality of bureaucracy

Bellodi, Luca;Morelli, Massimo;Vannoni, Matia
In corso di stampa

Abstract

We study the consequences of populism for economic performance and the quality of bureaucracy. When voters lose trust in representative democracy, populists strategically supply unconditional policy commitments that are easier to monitor for voters. When in power, populists try to implement their policy commitments regardless of financial constraints and expert assessment of the feasibility of their policies, worsening government economic performance and dismantling resistance from expert bureaucrats. With novel data on more than 8,000 Italian municipalities covering more than 20 years, 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 smaller repayments of debts, a larger share of procurement contracts with cost overruns, higher turnover among top bureaucrats – driven by forced rather than voluntary departures – and a sharp decrease in the percentage of graduate bureaucrats.
In corso di stampa
2023
Bellodi, Luca; Morelli, Massimo; Vannoni, Matia
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
BMV_populism_italy (003).pdf

accesso aperto

Descrizione: paper
Tipologia: Documento in Post-print (Post-print document)
Licenza: Non specificato
Dimensione 464.25 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
464.25 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri
Morelli-24oct2022(2).pdf

non disponibili

Descrizione: accettazione
Tipologia: Allegato per valutazione Bocconi (Attachment for Bocconi evaluation)
Licenza: NON PUBBLICO - Accesso privato/ristretto
Dimensione 147.07 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
147.07 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri
Morelli-24oct2022.pdf

non disponibili

Descrizione: accettazione
Tipologia: Allegato per valutazione Bocconi (Attachment for Bocconi evaluation)
Licenza: NON PUBBLICO - Accesso privato/ristretto
Dimensione 120.49 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
120.49 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri
Morelli-30aug2022.pdf

non disponibili

Descrizione: accettazione
Tipologia: Allegato per valutazione Bocconi (Attachment for Bocconi evaluation)
Licenza: NON PUBBLICO - Accesso privato/ristretto
Dimensione 141.47 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
141.47 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11565/4052405
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 3
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 2
social impact