Job Market Paper
This paper examines how local media affects electoral accountability and the quality of public education in Brazil. Exploiting the entry timing of the first local radio station in a municipality and the geographical area it covers, I find that local media decrease (increase) the probability of mayors being re-elected when they miss (exceed) the educational targets set by the federal government. I then examine the two main channels through which this enhancement in accountability can impact the quality of public schools. I estimate that local radio, by alleviating the moral hazard problem and inducing politicians to exert more effort, increased test scores by 0.16 standard deviations. I also show that local radio had negligible impact on educational outcomes through the selection of higher quality candidates. I interpret these reduced form findings through a political agency model, which I structurally estimate. The model fits my key findings and shows that the potentially puzzling combination of large moral hazard and limited selection effects can be rationalized by low heterogeneity in the quality of the candidate pool. Finally, the model allows me to aggregate the reduced form results and recover the full effect of the expansion of local radios in Brazil on educational outcomes.