Political connections, political favoritism and political competition: evidence from the granting of building permits by French mayors
This article discusses the influence of political connections on public policies implemented at the local level. Using a sample of more than 189,000 local politicians in French cities with more than 3500 inhabitants, I examine whether families of candidates who supported the mayors elected in 2008 obtain more building permits than the families of their political opponents. I find that the former obtain 35% more building permits than the latter between 2008 and 2014. Then, I show that the previous difference declines with political competition and disappears after close elections. My interpretation of those findings underlines two mechanisms. First, political competition disciplines mayors: in cities with weak political competition, mayors may favor their supporters when these supporters or one of their family members wants to obtain building permits, but they refrain from doing so after close elections. Second, in these cities, individuals who want to obtain something in exchange for their support (such as facilitating the acquisition of building permits) may easily forecast who is likely to become the mayor and whom they should support.
KeywordsPolitical favoritism Local elections Building permits Mayors Housing supply
JEL ClassificationR31 R50 D73
I benefited from discussions with Carles Boix, Philippe de Donder and Karine Van der Straten. Emmannuelle Auriole, Filip Kostelka, Julie Lassébie, Justin Leduc, Thierry Madiès, Mohamed Saleh, Albert Solé-Ollé and Emmannuel Thibault also provided me with useful comments. Two anonymous reviewers provided extremely useful advice and helped me improve the manuscript. I also thank Benjamin Vignolles, Benoit Petinat and the SOeS team from the Ministère du Développement Durable, who provided me with data and information. All errors are mine.
- Afin, O., Coleman, N. S., Fons-Rosen, C., & Peydro, J. L. (2018). Political connections: Evidence from insider trading around tarp. In: Universitat Pompeu Fabra working paper, (1542).Google Scholar
- André, P., Mareek, P., & Tapo, F. (2018). Ethnic favoritism: Winner takes all or power sharing? Evidence from school constructions in Benin. THEMA Working Paper.Google Scholar
- Cattaneo, M. D., Jansson, M., & Ma, X. (2017). Simple local polynomial density estimators. University of Michigan Working Paper.Google Scholar
- Clark, G., Leigh, A., & Pottenger, M. (2017). Immobile Australia: Surnames show strong status persistence, 1870-2017. CESifo Working Paper Series, (6650).Google Scholar
- Fabre, B., & Sangnier, M. (2017). What motivates french pork: Political career concerns or private connections? Aix-Marseille School of Economics Working Papers, (5).Google Scholar
- Gagliarducci, S., & Manacorda, M. (2016). Politics in the family: Nepotism and the hiring decisions of italian firms. CEP Discussion Paper.Google Scholar
- Golden, M., & Min, B. (2013). Distributive politics around the world. Annual Review of Political Science, 16(1), 73–99. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-052209-121553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hewstone, M., Rubin, M., & Willis, H. (2002). Intergroup bias. Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1), 575–604. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Logan, J. R., & Molotch, H. L. (1987). Urban fortunes: The political economy of place. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Lutes, B. (2015). The non-market competition for land-use: Special interests, influence, and regulation. University of California working paper.Google Scholar