Title

Does It Matter How and How Much Politicians are Paid?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-1-2020

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

School

Social Science and Global Studies

Abstract

© 2020 The London School of Economics and Political Science An important question in representative democracies is how to ensure that politicians behave in the best interests of citizens rather than in their own private interests. One institutional device available to regulate the actions of politicians is their pay structure. This paper provides fresh insights into the impact of income on the performance of politicians using a unique law change implemented in Turkey in 2012. Members of parliament (MPs) in Turkey, who are retired from their pre-political career jobs, earn a retirement pension on top of their MP salaries. A 2012 law significantly increased MPs’ pension earnings by pegging it to 18% of the President's salary, while keeping the earnings of non-retired MPs unchanged. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find that the increase in earnings due to the 2012 law reduced the overall performance of retired MPs, as measured by legislative activities, by 12.3% of a standard deviation. We find that the law change also reduced MPs’ attendance at parliamentary sessions. Given the design features of the Turkish reform, we believe that it is the increase in demand for leisure, not selection and re-election incentives, that serves as the main explanation for our finding.

Publication Title

Economica

Volume

87

Issue

348

First Page

1105

Last Page

1132

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