DP13562 Social Proximity and Bureaucrat Performance: Evidence from India

Author(s): Marianne Bertrand, Robin Burgess, Guo Xu
Publication Date: March 2019
Date Revised: March 2019
Keyword(s): bureaucrat performance, performance and promotion, political economy, Social proximity
JEL(s): D73, H11, O10
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13562

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.