Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Social Proximity and Bureaucrat Performance: Evidence from India

Author(s): Marianne Bertrand, Robin Burgess and Guo Xu

Publication Date: March 2019

Keyword(s): bureaucrat performance, performance and promotion, political economy and Social proximity

Programme Area(s): Development Economics

Abstract: Using exogenous variation in social proximity generated by an allocation rule, we find that bureaucrats assigned to their home states are perceived to be more corrupt and less able to withstand illegitimate political pressure. Despite this, we observe that home officers are more likely to be promoted in the later stages of their careers. To understand this dissonance between performance and promotion we show that incoming Chief Ministers preferentially promote home officers that come from the same home district. Taken together, our results suggest that social proximity hampers bureaucrat performance by facilitating political capture and corruption.

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Bibliographic Reference

Bertrand, M, Burgess, R and Xu, G. 2019. 'Social Proximity and Bureaucrat Performance: Evidence from India'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.