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Personnel Politics: Elections, Clientelistic Competition and Teacher Hiring in Indonesia

  • Jan H Pierskalla (a1) and Audrey Sacks (a2)

What is the effect of increased electoral competition on patronage politics? If programmatic appeals are not credible, institutional reforms that move politics from an elite- to a mass-focused and more competitive environment increase patronage efforts. This leads to an overall surge and notable spike in discretionary state hiring in election years. The study tests this prediction in the context of Indonesia’s decentralized education sector. The authors exploit the exogenous phasing in and timing of elections in Indonesian districts for causal identification. They find evidence of election-related increases in the number of contract teachers on local payrolls and increases in civil service teacher certifications, which dramatically increases salaries. These effects are particularly pronounced for districts in which the former authoritarian ruling party is in competition with new entrants.

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