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“Read my lips! (but only if I was elected)!” Experimental evidence on the effects of electoral competition on promises, shirking and trust

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  • Walkowitz, Gari
  • Weiss, Arne R.

Abstract

We experimentally test whether electoral competition reduces shirking behavior by office-holders and increases citizens’ trust. Using a novel multi-person investment game with voting, we indeed find that elected office-holders shirk less (i.e., they back-transfer more to citizens relative to investments) than randomly appointed office-holders. Surprisingly, this effect is not driven by electoral competition inflating office-holders’ promises. Instead, elected office-holders feel more committed to their promises than their randomly appointed counterparts. Elections initially also increase citizens’ trust because voters select candidates with the “right” kind of promises: neither low nor non-credibly high. However, over the course of the entire experiment, we find no evidence that electoral competition increases citizens’ trust.

Suggested Citation

  • Walkowitz, Gari & Weiss, Arne R., 2017. "“Read my lips! (but only if I was elected)!” Experimental evidence on the effects of electoral competition on promises, shirking and trust," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 348-367.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:348-367
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.06.012
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    Cited by:

    1. Gaudeul, Alexia & Keser, Claudia, 2017. "The social preferences of democratically elected decision makers and the conflict between wealth generation and distribution," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 327, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Elections; Promises; Shirking; Trust game;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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