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Looking beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes

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  • Chong, Alberto

    (George Washington University)

  • De La O Torres, Ana L.

    (Yale University)

  • Karlan, Dean

    (Yale University)

  • Wantchekon, Leonard

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

Does information about rampant political corruption increase electoral participation and the support for challenger parties? Democratic theory assumes that offering more information to voters will enhance electoral accountability. However, if there is consistent evidence suggesting that voters punish corrupt incumbents, it is unclear whether this translates into increased support for challengers and higher political participation. We provide experimental evidence that information about copious corruption not only decreases incumbent support in local elections in Mexico, but also decreases voter turnout, challengers' votes, and erodes voters' identification with the party of the corrupt incumbent. Our results suggest that while flows of information are necessary, they may be insufficient to improve political accountability, since voters may respond to information by withdrawing from the political process. We conclude with a discussion of the institutional contexts that could allow increased access to information to promote government accountability.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 94.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:94

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  1. Banerjee, Abhijit V. & Banerji, Rukmini & Duflo, Esther & Glennerster, Rachel & Khemani, Stuti, 2008. "Pitfalls of participatory programs : evidence from a randomized evaluation in education in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4584, The World Bank.
  2. Clausen, Bianca & Kraay, Aart & Nyiri, Zsolt, 2009. "Corruption and confidence in public institutions : evidence from a global survey," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5157, The World Bank.
  3. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
  4. Gingerich, Daniel W., 2009. "Corruption and Political Decay: Evidence from Bolivia," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 4(1), pages 1-34, March.
  5. Joseph M. Johnson & W. Mark Crain, 2004. "Effects of Term Limits on Fiscal Performance: Evidence from Democratic Nations," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 73-90, 04.
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Cited by:
  1. Gianmarco León, 2013. "Turnout, Political Preferences and Information: Experimental Evidence from Peru," Working Papers 691, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Ali T. Akarca & Aysit Tansel, 2012. "Turkish Voter Response to Government Incompetence and Corruption Related to the 1999 Earthquakes," Working Papers, Turkish Economic Association 2012/2, Turkish Economic Association.
  3. Martín Ardanaz & Ana Corbacho & Mauricio Ruiz-Vega, 2014. "Mind the Gap: Bridging the Perception and Reality of Crime Rates with Information," IDB Publications 86138, Inter-American Development Bank.
  4. Albert Solé-Ollé & Pilar Sorribas-Navarro, 2014. "Does corruption erode trust in government? Evidence from a recent surge of local scandals in Spain," Working Papers 2014/26, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  5. Lieberman, Evan S. & Posner, Daniel N. & Tsai, Lily L., 2014. "Does Information Lead to More Active Citizenship? Evidence from an Education Intervention in Rural Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 69-83.

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