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

  • Alberto Chong

    ()

    (George Washington University)

  • Ana L. De La O

    ()

    (Yale University)

  • Dean Karlan

    ()

    (Yale University)

  • Leonard Wantchekon

    ()

    (Princeton University)

Registered author(s):

    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.

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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp1005.pdf
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    Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 1005.

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    Length: 39 pages
    Date of creation: Jan 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1005
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    1. 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, 04.
    2. 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.
    3. Banerjee, Abhijit V. & Banerji, Rukmini & Duflo, Esther & Glennerster, Rachel & Khemani, Stuti, 2008. "Pitfalls of participatory programs : evidence from a randomized evaluation in education in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4584, The World Bank.
    4. Clausen, Bianca & Kraay, Aart & Nyiri, Zsolt, 2009. "Corruption and confidence in public institutions : evidence from a global survey," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5157, The World Bank.
    5. 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.
    6. James M. Snyder, Jr. & David Strömberg, 2008. "Press Coverage and Political Accountability," NBER Working Papers 13878, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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