Civil Service Reforms: Evidence from U.S. Police Departments (Job Market Paper) [Online Appendix]
Abstract: Does reducing politicians' control over public employees' hiring and firing improve bureaucratic performance? I answer this question exploiting population-based mandates for U.S. municipal police department merit systems in a regression discontinuity design. Merit system mandates improve performance: in the first ten years after the reform, the property crime rate is lower and the violent crime clearance rate is higher in departments operating under a merit system than in departments under a spoils system. Changes in resources or police officers' characteristics do not drive the effect: employment and expenditures are not affected and there is limited evidence of selection changing. Instead, I provide indirect evidence that the limitations to politicians' ability to influence police officers through discretionary firings are important: the mandates have no effect on performance when protections from political dismissals are not part of the treatment.
Research in Progress
State capacity and democratic policing: evidence from England and Wales
The Health Insurance Laffer Curve: Achieving Universal Health Coverage with an Unenforceable Mandate in Indonesia (with Abhijit Banerjee, Amy Finkelstein, Rema Hanna, Benjamin Olken and Sudarno Sumarto)