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Electoral Rules and Political Selection: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan

Listed author(s):
  • Andrew Beath
  • Fotini Christia
  • Georgy Egorov
  • Ruben Enikolopov

Voters commonly face a choice between competent candidates and those with policy preferences similar to their own. This article explores how electoral rules, such as district magnitude, mediate this trade-off and affect the composition of representative bodies and the quality of policy outcomes. We show formally that anticipation of bargaining over policy causes voters in elections with multiple single-member districts to prefer candidates with polarized policy positions over more competent candidates. Results from a unique field experiment in Afghanistan are consistent with these predictions. Specifically, representatives selected by elections with a single multi-member district are better educated and exhibit less extreme policy preferences.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdw018
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 83 (2016)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 932-968

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:83:y:2016:i:3:p:932-968.
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