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What Countries Select More Experienced Leaders? The PolEx Measure of Political Experience

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 May 2021

Alexander Baturo
Affiliation:
School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland
Johan A. Elkink
Affiliation:
School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

How can one assess which countries select more experienced leaders for the highest office? There is wide variation in prior career paths of national leaders within, and even more so between, regime types. It is therefore challenging to obtain a truly comparative measure of political experience; empirical studies have to rely on proxies instead. This article proposes PolEx, a measure of political experience that abstracts away from the details of career paths and generalizes based on the duration, quality and breadth of an individual's experience in politics. The analysis draws on a novel data set of around 2,000 leaders from 1950 to 2017 and uses a Bayesian latent variable model to estimate PolEx. The article illustrates how the new measure can be used comparatively to assess whether democracies select more experienced leaders. The authors find that while on average they do, the difference with non-democracies has declined dramatically since the early 2000s. Future research may leverage PolEx to investigate the role of prior political experience in, for example, policy making and crisis management.

Type
Letter
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Baturo and Elkink Dataset

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Baturo and Elkink supplementary material

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