Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Bureaucrats under Populism

Author(s): Massimo Morelli and Greg Sasso

Publication Date: March 2020


Programme Area(s): Public Economics

Abstract: We explore the consequences of populism for bureaucrats' incentives by analyzing a model of delegated policy-making between politicians and bureaucrats. Populist leaders prefer loyalist bureaucrats over competent ones, and this leads competent bureaucrats to engage in strategic policy-making: they sometimes feign loyalty to the current incumbent; and they sometimes implement the correct policy even at the cost of being fired. We show that feigning loyalty becomes more likely as the probability of a populist-loyalist combination increases. We also show that bureaucratic turnover is higher under populists when the bureaucracy is strong and higher under non-populists when the bureaucracy is weak.

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Bibliographic Reference

Morelli, M and Sasso, G. 2020. 'Bureaucrats under Populism'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.