Opposing Chavez

The Price of Political Opposition: Evidence from Venezuela’s Maisanta

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W14923

Chang-Tai Hsieh, Edward Miguel, Daniel Ortega, Francisco Rodriguez

In 2004, the Chavez regime in Venezuela distributed the list of several million voters whom had attempted to remove him from office throughout the government bureaucracy, allegedly to identify and punish these voters. We match the list of petition signers distributed by the government to household survey respondents to measure the economic effects of being identified as a Chavez political opponent.

We find that voters who were identified as Chavez opponents experienced a 5 percent drop in earnings and a 1.5 percentage point drop in employment rates after the voter list was released. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the loss aggregate TFP from the misallocation of workers across jobs was substantial, on the order of 3 percent of GDP.

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