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

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  • Andrew Beath
  • Fotini Christia
  • Georgy Egorov
  • Ruben Enikolopov

Abstract

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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  • Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Georgy Egorov & Ruben Enikolopov, 2016. "Electoral Rules and Political Selection: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 932-968.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:83:y:2016:i:3:p:932-968.
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    2. Gianmarco Daniele & Amedeo Piolatto & Willem Sas, 2018. "Who Sent You? Strategic Voting, Transfers and Bailouts in a Federation," Working Papers. Serie AD 2018-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    3. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2017. "Direct democracy and resource allocation: Experimental evidence from Afghanistan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 199-213.
    4. Susana Peralta & João Pereira dos Santos, 2020. "Who seeks reelection: local fiscal restraints and political selection," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 184(1), pages 105-134, July.
    5. Pique, Ricardo, 2019. "Higher pay, worse outcomes? The impact of mayoral wages on local government quality in Peru," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 1-20.
    6. Bartoš, Vojtěch & Levely, Ian, 2021. "Sanctioning and trustworthiness across ethnic groups: Experimental evidence from Afghanistan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    7. Gianmarco Daniele & Amedeo Piolatto & Willem Sas, 2020. "Does the Winner Take It All? Redistributive Policies and Political Extremism," Working Papers 1157, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    8. Oskari Harjunen & Tuukka Saarimaa & Janne Tukiainen, 2021. "Love Thy (Elected) Neighbor? Residential Segregation, Political Representation and Local Public Goods," Discussion Papers 138, Aboa Centre for Economics.
    9. Raul Magni Berton & Sophie Panel, 2017. "Strategic gerontocracy: why nondemocratic systems produce older leaders," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 171(3), pages 409-427, June.
    10. Bartoš, Vojtěch & Levely, Ian, 2021. "Sanctioning and trustworthiness across ethnic groups: Experimental evidence from Afghanistan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    11. Jaakko Meriläinen & Janne Tukiainen, 2018. "Rank effects in political promotions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 177(1), pages 87-109, October.
    12. Levely, Ian & Bartos, Vojtech, 2018. "Sanctioning and Trustworthiness Across Ethnic Groups," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 107, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    13. Maria Rosaria Alfano & Anna Laura Baraldi & Erasmo Papagni, 2020. "Do Voters Choose Better Politicians than Political Parties? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Italy," Working Papers 2020.24, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    14. Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus, 2017. "Experimentation at Scale," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 103-124, Fall.

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