Local governments are responsible for the provision of public goods and services, but little is known about their functioning in non-democracies. Researchers use new historical data to study the functioning and persistence of dictatorship mayors during the Pinochet regime in Chile and the subsequent transition to democracy. Preliminary findings suggest that, after the announcement of a democratization, spending in local public goods and services increased significantly in places with low support for the dictatorship. In addition, results show that in the first local election in democracy the share of votes for dictatorship mayors increased in places where investment increased. Researchers interpret these findings as evidence of an incumbency advantage of dictatorship mayors, a mechanism behind the persistence of local politicians across regimes. Finally, the project finds little differences in the performance of Pinochet-appointed mayors in democracy with suggestive evidence of an increase in malpractices. Draft forthcoming.
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