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Candidates, Character, and Corruption

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  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • Navin Kartik

Abstract

We study the characteristics of self-selected candidates in corrupt political systems. Individuals differ along two dimensions of unobservable character: public spirit (altruism) and honesty (disutility from selling out to special interests). Both aspects combine to determine an individual's quality as governor. We characterize properties of equilibrium candidate pools for arbitrary costs of running for office, including when costs become vanishingly small. We explore how policy instruments such as the governor's compensation and anticorruption enforcement affect the expected quality of governance through candidate self-selection. We show that self-selection can have surprising implications for the effect of information disclosures concerning candidates' backgrounds.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 6 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 205-46

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:6:y:2014:i:2:p:205-46

Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.6.2.205
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