Social Proximity and Bureaucrat Performance: Evidence from India
Guo Xu, Marianne Bertrand, Robin Burgess
Using exogenous variation in social proximity generated by an allocation rule, we find that bureaucrats assigned to their home states are perceived to be more corrupt and less able to withstand illegitimate political pressure. Despite this, we observe that home officers are more likely to be promoted in the later stages of their careers. To understand this dissonance between performance and promotion we show that incoming Chief Ministers preferentially promote home officers that come from the same home district. Taken together, our results suggest that social proximity hampers bureaucrat performance by facilitating political capture and corruption.