The article examines the effect of meritocratic recruitment and tenure protection in public bureaucracies on regulatory quality and business entry rates in a global sample. Utilizing a cross-country measure on the extent of meritocratic entry to bureaucracy and a time-series indicator of tenure protection, it subjects theoretical claims that these features improve the epistemic qualities of bureaucracies and also serve as a credible commitment device to empirical test. We find that, conditional on a number of economic, political, and legal factors, countries where bureaucracies are more insulated from day-to-day oversight by individual politicians through the institutional features under consideration tend to have both better regulation, specifically business regulation, and higher rates of business entry. Our findings suggest that bureaucratic structure has an indirect effect on entrepreneurship rates through better regulatory quality, but also exert a direct independent effect.
State capacity has attracted renewed interest over the last years, notably in the study of violent conflict. Yet, this concept is conceived differently depending on where the interest lies. In this article, we focus on bureaucratic autonomy as a distinct concept and discuss its connection to state capacity in detail. Using panel data over 1990–2010 and a novel indicator of autonomy, we estimate the separate effect of state capacity and bureaucratic autonomy on child mortality and tuberculosis prevalence. The evidence suggests that bureaucratic autonomy has a stronger impact than commonly used measures of state capacity or traditional macroeconomic variables.