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The Wise, the Politician and the Strongman: National Leaders' Type and Quality of Governance

Julieta Peveri ()
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Julieta Peveri: Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, AMSE, Marseille, France.,

No 2120, AMSE Working Papers from Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France

Abstract: There is strong evidence that national leaders matter for the performance of their nations, but little is known about what drives the direction of their effects. I assess how national leaders’ quality of governance, measured by six indicators,varies with their career and education. Using a sample of 1,000 rulers between 1931 and 2010, I identify three types of leaders: military leaders, academics, and politicians. I find that military leaders are associated with an overall negativeperformance, while politicians who have held important offices before taking power tend to perform well. Academics have on average non-significant effects. These results are partially driven by differences in policy decisions and in leadership styles. Military leaders (politicians) spend less (more) in health and education, are more (less) likely to establish a personalistic regime, to disrespect the constitution, and to move towards a non-electoral regime. Additionally, this paper highlights the weakness of using educational attainment as a proxy for politicians’ quality, and of growth as a measure of national leaders’ performance.

Keywords: national leaders; politicians' quality; leaders' characteristics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H70 J45 N10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 86 pages
Date: 2021-03, Revised 2022-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-lma and nep-pol
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