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The Labor Market of Italian Politicians

  • Antonio Merlo

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Vincenzo Galasso

    ()

    (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research, Universita Bocconi)

  • Massimiliano Landi

    ()

    (School of Economics, Singapore Management University)

  • Andrea Mattozzi

    ()

    (Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences California Institute of Technology)

Like voters (the represented), politicians (the representees) are the heart and soul of representative democracy. But isnt being a politician just like any other job? After we get past the rhetoric, is politics any different than other occupations? In the political sector, voters, parties and politicians represent the counterparts of consumers, firms and workers/managers in the market sector. In fact, the analogy is much deeper than it may appear at first sight. In the market sector, consumers determine to a large extent the success of a firm and ultimately the managements fate. However, managers are chosen by the firms, which typically have an objective that is different from those of consumers and managers. Likewise, while in all democratic systems the voters ultimately determine who is elected, it is typically the case that political parties nominate candidates for public office. Furthermore, the objectives of voters and parties with respect to the selection of candidates may differ, and are constrained by the career ambitions of individuals with political aspirations. But then, what really makes a career in the political sector different from a career in any other economic sector? There are at least three distinctive features that characterize the labor market in the political sector. First, politicians are typically under the spotlight, receiving the attention of the media and of a variety of citizens organizations. This makes politics a showcase, where politicians in office can display their political skills, while it might be more difficult for individuals working in the market sector to reveal their market ability. Second, inter-party competition for potential politicians is likely to be of secondary importance, as ideological preferences are more likely to attract individuals toward specific parties at the beginning of their political careers. Third, it is often the case that political parties take care of their losers by reserving partys positions to defea

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Paper provided by Singapore Management University, School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 15-2008.

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Length: 107 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision: Oct 2008
Publication status: Published in SMU Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:siu:wpaper:15-2008
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Web page: http://www.economics.smu.edu.sg/

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  1. Michael P. Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2010. "Money, Political Ambition, and the Career Decisions of Politicians," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 186-215, August.
  2. Matthias Messner & Mattias Polborn, 2003. "Paying Politicians," Working Papers 246, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521871525 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini & Paolo Naticchioni, 2007. "Outside Income and Moral Hazard: The Elusive Quest for Good Politicians," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-164, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  5. Bartolini, S. & D'Alimonte, R., 1995. "Plurality Competition and Party realignment in Italy: The 1994 Parliamentary Elections," Papers 95/7, European Institute - Political and Social Sciences.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521692083 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Antonio Merlo & Andrea Mattozzi, 2005. "Political Careers or Career Politicians?," 2005 Meeting Papers 740, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2004. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers: Supplementary Materiel," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-038, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
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