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Voters Prefer More Qualified Mayors, but Does It Matter for Public Finances? Evidence for Germany

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Ronny Freier, Sebastian Thomasius

In: International Tax and Public Finance 23 (2016), 5, S. 875-910


This paper studies the importance of politicians’ qualification, in terms of education and experience, for fiscal outcomes. The analysis is based on a large panel for 2031 German municipalities for which we have collected information on municipal budgets as well as the election results and qualification levels of mayoral candidates. We principally use a regression discontinuity design focusing on close elections to estimate causal effects. We find that mayors with prior experience in office have a tendency to reduce the level of local public debt, lower total municipal expenditures and decrease the local taxes, even though these results are only significant in some specifications. In contrast, the education level of the mayor exerts no significant effects on the overall fiscal performance of the municipality. The results are partly surprising as both education and experience are shown to matter greatly in the electoral success of mayoral candidates.

Topics: Public finances

JEL-Classification: D72;H11;H72
Keywords: Mayoral elections, Regression discontinuity design, Politician’s education and experience, Fiscal outcomes