Jan Pierskalla, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, The Ohio State University
“Personnel Politics: Elections, Clientelistic Competition, and Teacher Hiring in Indonesia”
Under what conditions does electoral competition impede the development of an effective civil service? We investigate how elections affect recruitment in Indonesia's education sector. We argue that electoral competition in a low-information, clientelistic environment generates incentives for competing elites to create clientelistic machines in local bureaucracies and engage in patronage politics, which leads to an overall increase in hiring and notable spikes in hiring in election years. We test this prediction using detailed teacher censuses from Indonesia. We exploit the exogenous phasing in and timing of elections in Indonesian districts to document a substantively meaningful increase in the number of teachers as a consequence of direct elections. We also document that the uptick in the number of contract teachers on local payrolls is particularly noticeable during election years. We also show that teacher certification, which dramatically affects salary levels, increases during election years. These effects are particularly strong for districts in which former non-ruling parties have strong political support but have yet to build an effective political machine in the bureaucracy.
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