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Shrinking dictators: how much economic growth can we attribute to national leaders?

National leaders – especially autocratic ones - are often given credit for high average rates of economic growth while they are in office (and draw criticism for poor growth rates). Drawing on the literature assessing the performance of schoolteachers and a simple variance components model, we develop a new methodology to produce optimal (least squares) estimates of each leader’s contribution to economic growth. We find that even in the world where leaders affect growth, the average rate of growth during a leader’s tenure is mostly uninformative about that leader’s contribution to growth...

William Easterly and Steven Pennings

Political Turnover, Bureacratic Turnover, and the Quality of Public Services

We study how political party turnover in mayoral elections in Brazil affects the provision of public education. Exploiting a regression discontinuity design for close elections, we find that municipalities with a new party in office have test scores that are 0.05-0.08 standard deviations lower than comparable municipalities with no change in the political party. 

Akhtari, Mitra, Diana Moreira, and Laura Trucco

Broken Cities: The Effect of Government Responsiveness on Citizens' Participation

What is the impact of government responsiveness on citizens’ participation in local public goods provision? I explore whether government receptiveness to requests for maintenance work (e.g., sidewalk repairs, tree pruning) affects the likelihood that citizens will demand new government projects. I ran a field experiment in collaboration with the Government of the City of Buenos Aires that generated an exogenous increase in repairs of broken sidewalks reported by citizens. I find that when the government repairs sidewalks after citizens file complaints, other citizens are more likely to issue additional requests for public maintenance work.

Laura Trucco