Political learning and officials' motivations: an empirical analysis of the education reform in the state of Sao Paulo

Available from: 
October 2013
Paper author(s): 
Ricardo Madeira (Universidade de São Paulo)
Thomaz Gemignani (Universidade de São Paulo)
Politics and Economy

We investigate the occurence of social learning among government officials in a context of decentralization of political responsibilities - the schooling decentralization reform of the state of São Paulo - and use it to analyze officials' motivations driving the adhesion to that program. We explore how the information exchange about the newly adopted tasks is configured and which aspects about the returns of decentralization are mostly valued by officials in their learning process. In particular, we try to determine to what extent the adhesion to the reform was due to electoral motivations or, rather, to concerns about the quality of public education provision. We present evidence that social learning configures a relevant factor in the reform implementation and find that mayors are more likely to adhere to the program upon the receipt of good news about the electoral returns of decentralization. On the other hand, experiences by information neighbors that turn out to be successful in improving the public provision seem to be ignored in mayors' decisions for decentralization. The argument for electoral motivations is further supported by evidence that officials tend to be more responsive to information transmitted by neighbors affiliated to the same party as their own.


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Research section: 
Lacea 2013 annual meeting
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