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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    1. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0449-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:103-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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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