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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

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Volume 15, Issue 3


Volume 6 (2006)

Volume 4 (2004)

Volume 2 (2002)

Volume 1 (2001)

Insulation or Patronage: Political Institutions and Bureaucratic Efficiency

Hannes Mueller
  • Corresponding author
  • Institut d’Analisi Economica, CSIC, MOVE and Barcelona GSE, Campus UAB, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
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Published Online: 2015-04-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2013-0084


This article presents a model of political insulation of bureaucracies. Political influence can harm competence because it lowers the incentives of bureaucrats to invest in competence. Politicians then want to adopt institutions that insulate the bureaucracy because this establishes a commitment to reward competence. Political leaders insulate the bureaucracy if public good provision is important compared to rent extraction or when political competition forces the political elite to internalize the welfare loss caused by patronage. Through this channel political reforms can lead to reforms of the bureaucracy. The theoretical findings are illustrated with existing empirical studies and data on central bank independence.

Keywords: bureaucracy; political institutions; insulation; patronage; competence; rent extraction


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-04-30

Published in Print: 2015-07-01

Funding: The author acknowledges the financial support from the Ramon y Cajal program, Research Grant SGR 1064 by the Catalan Government and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, through the Severo Ochoa Programme for Centres of Excellence in R&D (SEV-2011-0075). All mistakes are that of the author.

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Volume 15, Issue 3, Pages 961–996, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, ISSN (Print) 2194-6108, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2013-0084.

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