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Elections and reform: The adoption of civil service systems in the US states
Department of Political Science, Columbia University.
Department of Government, Harvard University.
Department of Political Science, Columbia University.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2013 (English)In: Journal of Theoretical Politics, ISSN 0951-6298, E-ISSN 1460-3667, Vol. 25, no 3, SI, 363-387 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Most government bureaucracies in developed countries use civil service systems. What accounts for their adoption? We develop and test a model of bureaucratic reforms under repeated partisan competition. In the model, two political parties composed of overlapping generations of candidates compete for office. Under a spoils system, an incumbent politician can either continue to politicize the bureaucracy, which allows her to direct benefits to voters in a way that will increase her electoral prospects, or she can insulate the bureaucracy, which prevents all future winners from using the bureaucracy for electoral advantage. Our main result is that politicization persists when incumbents expect to win, and insulation takes place when they expect to lose. We test this hypothesis using data from the adoption of civil service reforms across the U.S. states.The predictions of the model are consistent with the empirical patterns leading up to the implementation of the general civil service reforms. Using both state and city level data, we observe an increase in partisan competition prior to the reforms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD , 2013. Vol. 25, no 3, SI, 363-387 p.
Keyword [en]
bureaucracy; civil service; elections
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-338632DOI: 10.1177/0951629812453217OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-338632DiVA: diva2:1172871
Available from: 2018-01-11 Created: 2018-01-11 Last updated: 2018-01-11

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