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The disciplining role of repeated elections: some experimental evidence


  • Sugato Dasgupta


This paper reports on an experiment that studies the functioning of a political market. The formal model, on which the experiment is based, considers a situation wherein two candidates participate in a series of structurally identical elections. The model also incorporates and emphasizes an important informational asymmetry between voters and candidates: specifically, a candidate's diligence in office (i.e. the amount of effort expended) is unobserved by voters. How do subjects, voters and candidates, behave in the laboratory? My principal findings are twofold. First, given the institutional structure of repeated elections, voters have the ability to extract effort from candidates. However, candidates' effort level choices fall well short of the upper endpoint of the effort choice set. In other words, the electorate's ability to sanction candidates is not sufficient to eliminate the rents of office. Second, candidates' effort level choices are mostly consistent with incentives implicit in the elections set-up.

Suggested Citation

  • Sugato Dasgupta, 2009. "The disciplining role of repeated elections: some experimental evidence," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(2), pages 165-190.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:nzecpp:v:43:y:2009:i:2:p:165-190
    DOI: 10.1080/00779950903005515

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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.


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