Democracy Data

Electing the best and the broadest

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Science  04 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6350, pp. 468-469
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6350.468-b

Can democracies elect leaders who are both highly capable and broadly representative of society? They can in Sweden. Dal Bó et al. used data on more than 200,000 candidates for national or municipal office, including 50,000 who were elected, from 1982 to 2010. These were combined with individual data on cognitive and personality traits and socioeconomic information about candidates and their parents. Even when controlling for family background, politicians demonstrated better average cognitive and leadership skills than the broader population. But high quality was not exclusive: Politicians were drawn very evenly from across socioeconomic classes.

Quart. J. Econ. 10.1093/qje/qjx016 (2017).

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