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Elections and deceptions: An experimental study on the behavioral effects of democracy


Corazzini, Luca; Kube, Sebastian; Maréchal, Michel; Nicoló, Antonio (2013). Elections and deceptions: An experimental study on the behavioral effects of democracy. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics 421, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Traditionally, the virtue of democratic elections has been seen in their role as means of screening and sanctioning shirking public officials. This paper proposes a novel rationale for elections and political campaigns considering that candidates incur psychological costs of lying, in particular from breaking campaign promises. These non-pecuniary costs imply that campaigns influence subsequent behavior, even in the absence of reputational or image concerns. Our lab experiments reveal that promises are more than cheap talk. They influence the behavior of both voters and their representatives. We observe that the electorate is better off when their leaders are elected democratically rather than being appointed exogenously - but only in the presence of electoral campaigns. In addition, we find that representatives are more likely to serve the public interest when their approval rates are high. Altogether, our results suggest that elections and campaigns confer important benefits beyond their screening and sanctioning functions.

Traditionally, the virtue of democratic elections has been seen in their role as means of screening and sanctioning shirking public officials. This paper proposes a novel rationale for elections and political campaigns considering that candidates incur psychological costs of lying, in particular from breaking campaign promises. These non-pecuniary costs imply that campaigns influence subsequent behavior, even in the absence of reputational or image concerns. Our lab experiments reveal that promises are more than cheap talk. They influence the behavior of both voters and their representatives. We observe that the electorate is better off when their leaders are elected democratically rather than being appointed exogenously - but only in the presence of electoral campaigns. In addition, we find that representatives are more likely to serve the public interest when their approval rates are high. Altogether, our results suggest that elections and campaigns confer important benefits beyond their screening and sanctioning functions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:D72, C92, D03
Uncontrolled Keywords:Costs of Lying, Electoral Competition, Laboratory Experiment
Language:English
Date:August 2013
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:09
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
Number of Pages:29
ISSN:1424-0459
Additional Information:Revised version
Official URL:http://www.iew.uzh.ch/wp/iewwp421.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-51873

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