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Patronage in public administration: Presidential connections, position assignments and the performance of Korean public prosecutors, 1992-2000

Nowook Park and Rohini Somanathan ()
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Nowook Park: Korea Institute of Public Finance

Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers from Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India

Abstract: Presidential elections in Korea in the eighties and nineties provide an opportunity to examine the role of political patronage in a newly formed democracy. We examine whether the bureaucratic reshuffling which accompanies presidential changes depends on the political connections of bureaucrats and whether bureaucratic reassignment is associated with changes in administrative performance. We use data on all public prosecutors in Korea between 1992-2000 and find that sharing birth and school environments with the incumbent president roughly doubled the odds of being assigned to a range of influential positions within the Public Prosecutor's Office. In the last of the three presidential regimes we consider, we also find that branch offices with high fractions of connected prosecutors performed poorly relative to other branches. Observations over multiple years allow us to control for unobservable characteristics of prosecutors and offices while estimating these effects of political patronage.

Pages: 22 pages
Date: 2004-02
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