This paper explores the labor market returns to working on a victorious political campaign. Using unique administrative data from Brazil, we track the earnings and employment of campaign workers before and after close elections spanning nearly 20 years. We identify sizable returns to working for a winning campaign, especially in areas with a large informal sector and for workers connected to newly elected challengers. The returns are concentrated in the public sector, where connected hires are relatively more qualified. Our results suggest a potential upside to patronage as campaign connections create new pathways to public administration for young, high-ability workers.
We thank Jeanet Bentzen, Emanuele Colonnelli, Gordon Dahl, Ricardo Dahis, Benjamin Marx, Craig McIntosh, Vincent Pons, Paul Raschky, Edoardo Teso, Clemence Tricaud, and seminar participants at Monash University, UC San Diego, Australian National University, and University of Melbourne for helpful feedback. We especially thank Marc Muendler for sharing data and for early, insightful discussions. We thank Plinio Bicalho and Katia Lundell for superb research assistance. All errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.