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Who becomes a politician?
Univ Calif Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA. .
Univ Calif Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA. .
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government. UCLS, Chicago, IL USA.
Inst Int Econ Studies, Stockholm, Sweden.
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2017 (English)In: Quarterly Journal of Economics, ISSN 0033-5533, E-ISSN 1531-4650, Vol. 132, no 4, p. 1877-1914Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Can a democracy attract competent leaders, while attaining broad representation? Economicmodels suggest that free-riding incentives and lower opportunity costs give the less competent a comparative advantage at entering political life. Moreover, if elites have more human capital, selecting on competence may lead to uneven representation. This article examines patterns of political selection among the universe of municipal politicians and national legislators in Sweden, using extraordinarily rich data on competence traits and social background for the entire population. We document four new facts that together characterize an "inclusive meritocracy." First, politicians are on average significantly smarter and better leaders than the population they represent. Second, this positive selection is present even when conditioning on family (and hence social) background, suggesting that individual competence is key for selection. Third, the representation of social background, whether measured by parental earnings or occupational social class, is remarkably even. Fourth, there is at best a weak trade-off in selection between competence and social representation, mainly due to strong positive selection of politicians of low (parental) socioeconomic status. A broad implication of these facts is that it is possible for democracy to generate competent and socially representative leadership.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC , 2017. Vol. 132, no 4, p. 1877-1914
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-337317DOI: 10.1093/qje/qjx016ISI: 000412764300007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-337317DiVA, id: diva2:1171696
Funder
Torsten Söderbergs stiftelseSwedish Research CouncilAvailable from: 2018-01-08 Created: 2018-01-08 Last updated: 2018-02-09Bibliographically approved

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Folke, Olle

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