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Pork barrel politics, voter turnout, and inequality: An experimental study

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  • Jens Großer
  • Thorsten Giertz
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    Abstract

    We experimentally study pork barrel politics in two-candidate majoritarian elections. Candidates form distinct supporter groups by favoring some voters in budget spending at the expense of others. We compare voluntary and compulsory costly voting and find that, on average, the former mode induces more narrowly targeted favors and therefore more inequality among otherwise identical voters. When the same candidates act over many elections, such as with parties, they tend to cultivate policy polarization by frequently favoring their exclusive supporters again and avoiding those of the opponent, and with compulsory voting we find additional frequent policy overlap for a separate subset of voters. Our findings are important for understanding how an inclination towards a sustained "divided society" can arise purely from the political process, absent of any coordination devices such as ideological preferences.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Cologne, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics with number 70.

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    Date of creation: 31 Jan 2014
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    Handle: RePEc:kls:series:0070

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    Related research

    Keywords: Pork barrel politics; voter turnout; inequality; Colonel Blotto games; laboratory experiments;

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    1. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
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