Marta Curto and Aina Gallego "Educated Politicians: Effects on Performance and Fiscal Policy" Highly educated citizens are dramatically over-represented among politicians. Is this bias desirable, troubling or irrelevant? Recent studies argue that highly educated politicians perform better in office, but others find no effects. We advance a third possibility which is that education affects the preferences and beliefs of politicians, and leads them to pursue different goals and fiscal policies. Our empirical analysis is based on a novel dataset with information about the education, age and gender of elected local politicians in Spain and detailed economic and fiscal data collected between 2003 and 2011. Applying a Regression Discontinuity design, we find that when parties with more educated politicians win the election, municipalities have higher unemployment rates and do not perform better in other respects. Further analyses reveal that educated politicians are more fiscally conservative, spend less in capital investment, and prioritize different spending areas. Furthermore, our results are driven by politicians on the left. In particular, highly educated left-wing politicians govern in ways similar to right-wing politicians. Our results are consistent with the interpretation that more educated politicians are more fiscally conservative rather than with the claim that education is a proxy of quality. To conclude, we discuss how the elitism in the educational composition of governments can undermine political representation.
Work in progress
The legacies of violence on corruption: Evidence from the Spanish Civil War With Laia Balcells, Elena Costas, Catherine de Vries and Hector Solaz Data collection and analysis in progress
Political implications of routine-biased technological change With Thomas Kürer Data collection and analysis in progress
The origins of national identities: Longitudinal evidence from Scotland With Lesley Daniels, Maria Jose Hierro and Daniel Oberski Data collection and analysis in progress
Moral judgments: Comparing citizens and politicians With Amaney Jamal and Carles Boix Fieldwork in Egypt in progress
Local politicians: Selection and performance With Marta Curto, Elena Costas and Didac Queralt Research grant (CSO2016-79569-P) started in January 2017