Frederico Finan (Alesina Seminar)


Thursday, March 31, 2022, 4:30pm to 5:45pm


CGIS Knafel, room K354

Today's Speaker

Frederico Finan (University of California, Berkeley), "When Democracy Refuses to Die: Evaluating a Training Program for New Politicians"


Brazil has experienced democratic backsliding in recent years, a process often blamed on rising distrust of a political class marred by corruption scandals. This phenomenon is also present in several other nations in both the developing and the developed world. In response, several non-profit organizations have emerged with training programs designed to select and train a new class of political leaders. But whether this response by civil society can succeed in renewing the political class remains uninvestigated. In this paper, we evaluate the largest non-profit, non-partisan training program for aspiring politicians in Brazil. Using a judge-specific regression discontinuity design, we estimate the effects of the program on aspirants deciding to run and, conditional on running, on their electoral performance during the 2020 local elections. We find that the program increased the likelihood that the aspirant ran for office, and that it led to modest improvements in their campaign funds and vote shares. We do not, however, find any evidence that these aspirants are more likely to get elected suggesting that the program has yet to have any meaningful impact on Brazil’s political selection. Our estimates inform program targets by identifying how large an effect on vote shares and finance improvements would be required for the program to impact political selection.

Co-sponsored by FAS and IQSS, the Program on Political Economy (PE) supports research-related activities that integrate the study of economics and politics, whether by studying economic behavior in the political process or political behavior in the marketplace. In general, positive political economy is concerned with showing how observed differences among institutions affect political and economic outcomes in various social, economic, and political systems and how the institutions themselves change and develop in response to individual and collective beliefs, preferences, and strategies.

Zoom links for Political Economy Seminar are distributed via the seminar's mailing list. You can subscribe to the PE Mailing List here.

See the seminar's full schedule at the Program on Political Economy page.

All interested faculty and students are invited to attend.