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Article

Elections, Appointments, and Human Capital: The Case of Russian Mayors

A growing body of literature suggests that the quality of public officials has an effect on policy outcomes. But scholars differ as to which of the two primary methods for selecting public officials—elections and appointments—are more likely to produce high quality officials. Using original data on the backgrounds of Russian mayors between 2000 and 2012, we examine how the biographies of elected and appointed mayors differ. Russia is a fruitful laboratory for such a study because elected and appointed mayors exist simultaneously in contemporary Russia. Among other things, we find that elected mayors are slightly better educated, more likely to come from business backgrounds, have more elected experience, turn over at a lower rate, and are less likely to have executive governing experience. Contrary to popular perceptions, very few mayors of either stripe have experience in the security services. Our findings highlight the potentially ambiguous connection between elections and the quality of public officials.