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

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  • Luca Corazzini
  • Sebastian Kube
  • Michel André Maréchal
  • Antonio Nicolò

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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 421.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision: Aug 2013
Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:421

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Keywords: Costs of lying; electoral competition; laboratory experiment;

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Cited by:
  1. Julie Rosaz & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2012. "Lies and Biased Evaluation: A Real-Effort Experiment," Post-Print halshs-00617120, HAL.
  2. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao, 2011. "Classification of natural language messages using a coordination game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 1-14, March.
  3. Fabio Galeotti & Daniel John Zizzo, 2014. "Competence versus Trustworthiness: What Do Voters Care About?," University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series 060, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  4. Daniel Houser & Sandra Ludwig & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "Does Deceptive Advertising Reduce Political Participation? Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1011, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.

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