Measuring portfolio salience using paired comparisons: a new application of the Bradley-Terry model

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We propose measuring portfolio salience by analyzing paired comparisons data using the Bradley-Terry model. Paired-comparison data are easy to collect using surveys that are userfriendly, rapid, and inexpensive, and we implement the approach with both politicians and experts in Brazil. We show that practitioners and academics have broadly similar views of the relative worth of cabinet posts, and that estimates are robust to variations in implementation of the method, suggesting that either group could be surveyed efficiently to generate measures of portfolio salience. Substantively, we find that respondent valuations of cabinet portfolios deviate considerably from what would be predicted by objective institutional measures such as budget, policy influence, and employment opportunities for political appointees.

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