In many democracies a small subset of individuals enjoys a de facto electoral advantage. The existence of political dynasties, where individuals from a narrow set of families obtain larger vote shares and are more likely to access office, illustrates this phenomenon. In this paper, I study political dynasties in the Philippines and provide evidence of dynastic persistence. More precisely, I provide evidence that incumbency has a causal effect on the probability of having future relatives in office. Using a regression discontinuity design based on close elections, I find that candidates who barely win their first election by a small margin are around 5 times more likely to have a relative in office in the future than individuals who barely lose their first election and never serve. I discuss alternative channels that may explain dynastic persistence in the Philippines. I argue that access to office and public resources - important in clientelistic democracies like the Philippines - allows incumbents to give relatives an electoral advantage if they first run while they are still in office. Occupational choice, while plausibly important, is less likely to be the main driver of dynastic persistence.
- Elite persistence
- Political dynasties
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations