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

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  • Alberto Chong
  • Ana L. De La O
  • Dean Karlan
  • Leonard Wantchekon

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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17679.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17679

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  1. Joseph M. Johnson & W. Mark Crain, 2004. "Effects of Term Limits on Fiscal Performance: Evidence from Democratic Nations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 73-90, 04.
  2. Gingerich, Daniel W., 2009. "Corruption and Political Decay: Evidence from Bolivia," International Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 4(1), pages 1-34, March.
  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, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
  4. Abhijit Banerjee & Rukmini Banerji & Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Stuti Khemani, 2008. "Pitfalls of Participatory Programs: Evidence From a Randomized Evaluation in Education in India," NBER Working Papers 14311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bianca Clausen & Aart Kraay & Zsolt Nyiri, 2011. "Corruption and Confidence in Public Institutions: Evidence from a Global Survey," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 25(2), pages 212-249.
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Cited by:
  1. 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, vol. 60(C), pages 69-83.
  2. Ali T. Akarca & Aysit Tansel, 2012. "Turkish Voter Response to Government Incompetence and Corruption Related to the 1999 Earthquakes," ERC Working Papers 1202, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Jan 2012.
  3. Gianmarco León, 2013. "Turnout, Political Preferences and Information: Experimental Evidence from Peru," Working Papers 691, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  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).

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