What Price the Court of St. James? Political Influences on Ambassadorial Postings of the United States of America

Working Paper 234
J W Fedderke and D Jett
Publication date: 
August, 2011

This paper explores the appointment of career diplomats and political appointees to ambassadorial positions. The results of the paper suggest that political appointees are more likely to become ambassadors in high income OECD countries, that are strong tourist destinations, are located in Western Europe the Caribbean or Central America, and that carry lower hardship allowances, than are career diplomats. We show that the greater the personal or bundled campaign contributions to a presidential campaign, the more highly ranked the posting in terms of per capita GDP, tourist volumes, hardship allowances, the more likely the posting will be in Western Europe, and the less likely it will be in Central and South Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, we identify a range of implicit prices for personal and
bundled campaign contributors for a set of diplomatic posts. The price range in terms of campaign contributions for the Court of St. James lies between $650,000 and $2.3 million.

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