Co-taught by Professors Kenneth Shepsle and Jeffry Frieden, the Research Workshop in Political Economy (Government 3007) is a year-long graduate seminar that aims to encourage cross-disciplinary research and excellence in graduate training. Political economy is a research tradition that explores how institutions affect political and economic outcomes. The workshop emphasizes the development of dissertation proposals and is a place where graduate students can present their research to an audience of committed and informed peers. It is open to graduate students in the Departments of Government and Economics, and the Program in Political Economy and Government. The workshop holds both internal and public seminars and meetings. At the internal meetings, approximately twelve per semester, graduate students and faculty present their own work to one another. At the public meetings, up to two per semester, leading scholars are invited to Harvard to present their work. Although the workshop is by invitation only, affiliates of the Weatherhead Center are encouraged to attend the public meetings.
“Political Turnover, Bureaucratic Turnover, and the Quality of Public Services”
Mitra Akhtari (with Diana Moreira and Laura Trucco)
We study how political party changes in mayoral elections in Brazil affect 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 0.07 standard deviations lower than comparable municipalities with no change in the ruling party. Party turnover leads to a sharp increase in the replacement rate of headmasters and teachers in schools controlled by the municipality. In contrast, we show that changes in the party of the mayor do not impact the rate of replacement of school personnel or student test scores for local (non-municipal) schools that are not controlled by the municipal government. The findings suggest that political turnover in Brazilian municipalities negatively impacts student outcomes through political discretion over the municipal education bureaucracy. Political turnover can adversely affect the quality of public service provision in environments where the bureaucracy is not shielded from the political process.