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Is It Worth It? On the Returns to Holding Political Office

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  • Berg, Heléne

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

Abstract

Despite the key role played by political payoffs in theory, very little is known empirically about the types of payoffs that motivate politicians. The purpose of this paper is to bring light into this. I estimate causal effects of being elected in a local election on monetary returns. The claim for causality, I argue, can be made thanks to a research design where the income of some candidate who just barely won a seat is compared to that of some other candidate who was close to winning a seat for the same party, but ultimately did not. This research design is made possible thanks to a comprehensive, detailed data set covering all Swedish politicians who have run for office in the period 1991–2006. I establish that monetary returns are absent both in the short and long run. Instead, politicians seem to be motivated by non-monetary returns, and I show that being elected locally once (for exogenous reasons) can be an effective starting point for enjoying such payoffs.

Suggested Citation

  • Berg, Heléne, 2018. "Is It Worth It? On the Returns to Holding Political Office," Research Papers in Economics 2018:5, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2018_0005
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Returns to politics; incumbency effects; regression discontinuity design;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations

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