Balan & Rizzo on The Labor Market of Political Intermediation

May 19, 2021 12:00PM

Dear all,
We are happy to invite you to the last meeting of the Latin American Working Group of the semester. In this meeting, Pablo Balán (Harvard University) and Tesalia Rizzo (UC Merced), will present their pre-analysis plan for their work on the labor market of political intermediation.
Pablo Balán is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University. He specializes in the political economy of developing countries, with a substantive focus on state capacity and social networks, a methodological focus on field experiments, and a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
Tesalia Rizzo (for those who weren't lucky enough to know her at the department) is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Merced, as well as a Research Affiliate at MIT Governance Lab and at the Stanford Governance Project. She studies topics in comparative political behavior and political economy using a variety of techniques such as field experiments, surveys, interviews, and observational data.

WHAT: Pre-Analysis Plan: The Labor Market of Political Intermediation
Most research characterizes political intermediaries as the mobilizing arm of political parties during elections (Stokes et al. 2013). Recent research highlights that, in modern democracies, most political brokers maintain full-time labor contracts with political parties (e.g., Brierley and Nathan 2020). However, we lack a long-term view of the professional trajectories of political intermediaries. We use a unique dataset of party brokers active in the late 1990s in Mexico to study how these employment relations evolve over time and the economic returns of working as a party broker. We ask: What are the opportunity costs in becoming a political intermediary, relative to choosing another profession? What are the risks and returns to a career as an intermediary? What kind of individual opts for this profession? Do brokers aspire to continue in their job or use their position as a platform to pursue other political positions?
To tackle these questions, we seek to implement a life history approach. Our sampling frame is the full roster of party brokers affiliated with a large Mexican political party who were active in the state of Nuevo León circa 1997 (N=2,142). The data include individuals’ name, phone number, address, and occupation. Using a larger dataset with information about all party sympathizers (N=811,000) and employing matching techniques, we will create a ‘control’ group of party sympathizers who were not party brokers at the time as a contrast. The latter dataset also contains a loyalty score assigned by the party on the basis of attendance, which will allow us to study the role of this important factor on brokers’ careers.
We seek to conduct two surveys. First, we will conduct a phone survey to track party brokers’ and sympathizers’ employment history since 1997. The survey contains detailed modules to assess their labor trajectories, political involvement and some personal traits. The phone survey is schedule for July 2021. Second, we will invite the survey respondents to answer a longer online survey that attempts at gauging diverse psychological traits of these two groups drawing from current psychological theories of social status (Henrich and Gil-White, 2001).