DP15675 What Shapes the Quality and Behavior of Government Offcials? Institutional Variation in Selection and Retention Methods

Author(s): Claire Lim, James Snyder
Publication Date: January 2021
Keyword(s): accountability, Appointment, Election, Nonpartisan, Partisan, Voter information
JEL(s): H1, H7, K4, N4
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15675

In representative democracies, a variety of rules are employed to select and retain public officials to reflect public preferences over policies. We discuss the literature on selection and retention rules for government officials, focusing on ``low-information'' offices. First, we overview the historical origin and the scope of the variation in selection and retention rules. Second, we provide conceptual frameworks for assessing the advantages and disadvantages of direct elections and discuss various factors that influence the functioning of elections. Third, we present empirical regularities. We summarize the baseline effects of the institutional variation and their interaction with factors such as media and compensation. Finally, we discuss outstanding questions in theoretical and empirical fronts, and how the digitization of government information and advances in machine learning can open up new avenues for research.