Research School for Economic and Social History


18 January 2023
10:15 - 11:15
Hybrid: Utrecht University Hall (Academiegebouw, Domplein 29; invitees only) and online

PhD defence Bas Machielsen

On 18 january 2023, Posthumus alumnus Bas Machielsen will defend his thesis ‘The Political Elite, Self-Interest and Democratization’, in which he examines the influence of self-interest on the decision-making of political elites.

Literature has already documented various ways in which actions of political elites can benefit themselves, possibly at the expense of the electorate or society. Bas Machielsen’s dissertation focuses on the personal wealth of politicians. How does their wealth develop in relation to their actions? Machielsen focuses on the Dutch political elite of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period of economic growth and democratisation. Not only the wealth of MPs is examined, but also that of ministers and provincial deputies. Machielsen found the information on their wealth in estate inventories. In his thesis, Machielsen shows that politicians prioritised their own wealth when voting on bills that directly affected them. By looking at variations in expected inheritance, he shows that the link is causal.

<p.Furthermore, Machielsen makes a comparison between the personal wealth of elected and just-not-elected candidates. He finds that politicians who did get elected to the representative body became significantly wealthier.

Promotors are Professor Oscar Gelderblom (University of Antwerp / Utrecht University) and Professor Abe de Jong (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam).

The defence can be attended on-site, but also via live stream (see link in header).