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"Read my Lips!" Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Electoral Competition on Shirking and Trust

Author

Listed:
  • Gari Walkowitz

    (University of Cologne)

  • Arne R. Weiss

    (University of Cologne)

Abstract

We experimentally test whether electoral competition reduces shirking behavior by office-holders and increases citizens' trust. We hypothesize that competition increases campaign promises by office-holders, who feel committed to what they promise. Using a novel repeated multi-person investment-game with periodic elections, we indeed find that elected office-holders shirk less (i.e., they back-transfer more to citizens relative to investments) as compared to randomly appointed office-holders. Surprisingly, this effect cannot be explained through competition inflating the level of electoral promises. Nevertheless, promises do matter; in fact, they carry greater weight for the behavior of elected office-holders than for their randomly appointed counterparts. Elections also have a positive short-term effect on citizens' trust by cutting off both low and excessively high promises.

Suggested Citation

  • Gari Walkowitz & Arne R. Weiss, 2014. ""Read my Lips!" Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Electoral Competition on Shirking and Trust," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 05-07, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgr:cgsser:05-07
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    File URL: http://www.cgs.uni-koeln.de/fileadmin/wiso_fak/cgs/pdf/working_paper/cgswp_05-07.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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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