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Electoral Rules and the Quality of Politicians: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan

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Listed:
  • Andrew Beath
  • Fotini Christia
  • Georgy Egorov
  • Ruben Enikolopov

Abstract

We examine the effect of electoral rules on the quality of elected officials using a unique field experiment which induced randomized variation in the method of council elections in 250 villages in Afghanistan. In particular, we compare at-large elections, with a single multi-member district, to district elections, with multiple single member districts. We propose a theoretical model where the difference in the quality of elected officials between the two electoral systems occurs because elected legislators have to bargain over policy, which induces citizens in district elections to vote strategically for candidates with more polarized policy positions even at the expense of candidates' competence. Consistent with the predictions of the model, we find that elected officials in at-large elections are more educated than those in district elections and that this effect is stronger in more heterogeneous villages. We also find evidence that elected officials in district elections have more biased preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Georgy Egorov & Ruben Enikolopov, 2014. "Electoral Rules and the Quality of Politicians: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," NBER Working Papers 20082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20082
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0449-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Finan, Frederico S. & Mazzocco, Maurizio, 2016. "Electoral Incentives and the Allocation of Public Funds," IZA Discussion Papers 9623, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0436-x is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Damien Bol & Arnaud Dellis & Mandar oak, 2015. "Endogenous Candidacy in Electoral Competition: A Survey," School of Economics Working Papers 2015-19, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    5. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2013. "Do elected councils improve governance ? experimental evidence on local institutions in Afghanistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6510, The World Bank.
    6. repec:oup:qjecon:v:132:y:2017:i:4:p:1877-1914. is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jochem, Torsten & Murtazashvili, Ilia & Murtazashvili, Jennifer, 2016. "Establishing Local Government in Fragile States: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 293-310.
    8. Ernesto Dal Bó & Frederico Finan & Olle Folke & Torsten Persson & Johanna Rickne, 2017. "Who Becomes A Politician?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1877-1914.
    9. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:103-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus, 2017. "Experimentation at Scale," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 103-124, Fall.
    11. Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini, 2017. "Political selection under alternative electoral rules," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 171(3), pages 257-281, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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