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Pork barrel politics, voter turnout, and inequality: An experimental study

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  • Jens Großer
  • Thorsten Giertz

Abstract

We experimentally study pork barrel politics in two-candidate majoritarian elections. Candidates form distinct supporter groups by favoring some voters in budget spending at the expense of others. We compare voluntary and compulsory costly voting and find that, on average, the former mode induces more narrowly targeted favors and therefore more inequality among otherwise identical voters. When the same candidates act over many elections, such as with parties, they tend to cultivate policy polarization by frequently favoring their exclusive supporters again and avoiding those of the opponent, and with compulsory voting we find additional frequent policy overlap for a separate subset of voters. Our findings are important for understanding how an inclination towards a sustained "divided society" can arise purely from the political process, absent of any coordination devices such as ideological preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Jens Großer & Thorsten Giertz, 2014. "Pork barrel politics, voter turnout, and inequality: An experimental study," Working Paper Series in Economics 70, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kls:series:0070
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Subhasish Chowdhury & Dan Kovenock & Roman Sheremeta, 2013. "An experimental investigation of Colonel Blotto games," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(3), pages 833-861, April.
    2. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
    3. Laslier, Jean-Francois & Picard, Nathalie, 2002. "Distributive Politics and Electoral Competition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 106-130, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Casella, Alessandra & Laslier, Jean-François & Macé, Antonin, 2017. "Democracy for Polarized Committees: The Tale of Blotto's Lieutenants," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 239-259.
    2. Großer, Jens & Seebauer, Michael, 2016. "The curse of uninformed voting: An experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 205-226.

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    Keywords

    Pork barrel politics; voter turnout; inequality; Colonel Blotto games; laboratory experiments;
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