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The return of the prodigy son: Do return migrants make better leaders?

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  • Mercier, Marion

Abstract

This paper describes the relationship between political leaders' migration experience and the evolution of democracy during their leadership. We build up an original database on the personal background of 932 politicians who were at the head of the executive power in a developing country over the 1960–2004 period. These data reveal the existence of a positive correlation between the fact that leaders studied abroad and the change in the score of democracy in their country during their tenure, for leaders who reach power in initially autocratic settings. This correlation notably appears to be driven by leaders who studied in high-income OECD countries. The main finding, confirmed by various robustness tests, adds up to the recent literature on the effects of the characteristics of political leaders. It also suggests a new channel through which migration may shape development and politics in the sending countries — namely, the political elites.

Suggested Citation

  • Mercier, Marion, 2016. "The return of the prodigy son: Do return migrants make better leaders?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 76-91.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:122:y:2016:i:c:p:76-91
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2016.04.005
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political leaders; Migration; Democracy; Developing countries;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative

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