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Looking Beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes

Author

Listed:
  • Alberto Chong

    () (George Washington University)

  • Ana L. De La O

    () (Yale University)

  • Dean Karlan

    () (Yale University)

  • Leonard Wantchekon

    () (Princeton University)

Abstract

Does information about rampant political corruption increase electoral participation and the support for challenger parties? Democratic theory assumes that offering more information to voters will enhance electoral accountability. However, if there is consistent evidence suggesting that voters punish corrupt incumbents, it is unclear whether this translates into increased support for challengers and higher political participation. We provide experimental evidence that information about copious corruption not only decreases incumbent support in local elections in Mexico, but also decreases voter turnout, challengers'votes, and erodes voters' identifcation with the party of the corrupt incumbent. Our results suggest that while flows of information are necessary, they may be insufficient to improve political accountability, since voters may respond to information by withdrawing from the political process. We conclude with a discussion of the institutional contexts that could allow increased access to information to promote government accountability.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Chong & Ana L. De La O & Dean Karlan & Leonard Wantchekon, 2012. "Looking Beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes," Working Papers 1005, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1005
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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp1005.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2005. "Political Selection and the Quality of Government: Evidence from South India," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 08, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    2. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451.
    3. Gingerich, Daniel W., 2009. "Corruption and Political Decay: Evidence from Bolivia," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 4(1), pages 1-34, March.
    4. Bianca Clausen & Aart Kraay & Zsolt Nyiri, 2011. "Corruption and Confidence in Public Institutions: Evidence from a Global Survey," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 25(2), pages 212-249.
    5. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Rukmini Banerji & Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Stuti Khemani, 2010. "Pitfalls of Participatory Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Education in India," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-30, February.
    6. James M. Snyder & David Strömberg, 2010. "Press Coverage and Political Accountability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(2), pages 355-408, April.
    7. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:74:y:1980:i:03:p:697-708_16 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Joseph M. Johnson & W. Mark Crain, 2004. "Effects of Term Limits on Fiscal Performance: Evidence from Democratic Nations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 73-90, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ali T. Akarca & Aysit Tansel, 2012. "Turkish Voter Response to Government Incompetence and Corruption Related to the 1999 Earthquakes," Working Papers 2012/2, Turkish Economic Association.
    2. Sangnier, Marc & Zylberberg, Yanos, 2017. "Protests and trust in the state: Evidence from African countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 55-67.
    3. Donald P. Green, 2013. "Breaking Empirical Deadlocks in the Study of Partisanship: An Overview of Experimental Research Strategies," Politics and Governance, Cogitatio Press, vol. 1(1), pages 6-15.
    4. Martín Ardanaz & Ana Corbacho & Mauricio Ruiz-Vega, 2014. "Mind the Gap: Bridging the Perception and Reality of Crime Rates with Information," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6595, Inter-American Development Bank.
    5. Daniel Gingerich & Virginia Oliveros & Ana Corbacho & Mauricio Ruiz-Vega, 2015. "Corruption as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Costa Rica," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 88334, Inter-American Development Bank.
    6. Lieberman, Evan S. & Posner, Daniel N. & Tsai, Lily L., 2014. "Does Information Lead to More Active Citizenship? Evidence from an Education Intervention in Rural Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 69-83.
    7. repec:eee:deveco:v:131:y:2018:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Dario José Salcedo Monroy, 2015. "Local Media: Expansion of Radio and Political Accountability. Evidence from Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 012566, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    9. Sangnier, Marc & Zylberberg, Yanos, 2017. "Protests and trust in the state: Evidence from African countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 55-67.
    10. repec:gig:joupla:v:6:y:2014:i:3:p:67-93 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. León, Gianmarco, 2017. "Turnout, political preferences and information: Experimental evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 56-71.
    12. Martín Ardanaz & Ana Corbacho & Mauricio Ruiz-Vega, 2014. "Mind the Gap: Bridging the Perception and Reality of Crime Rates with Information," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 86138, Inter-American Development Bank.
    13. Albert Solé-Ollé & Pilar Sorribas-Navarro, 2014. "Does Corruption Erode Trust in Government? Evidence from a Recent Surge of Local Scandals in Spain," CESifo Working Paper Series 4888, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Leopoldo Fergusson & Juan F. Vargas & Mauricio A. Vela, 2013. "Sunlight Disinfects? Free Media in Weak Democracies," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010487, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corruption; Accountability; Elections; Voting; Information;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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