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Towards a Behavioral Public Choice: Guilt-Aversion and Accountability in the Lab

Mimicking standard features of electoral accountability and selection models, we conduct a computerized laboratory experiment in order to identify the influence of other-regarding preferences on democratic outcomes. We find that elected candidates are more pro-social towards their constituency the more favorable approval rates are. In contrast, this systematic positive relationship is not observed if the appointment is unintentionally determined by computer. These results suggest that a substantial fraction of candidates is motivated by guilt aversion. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design of democratic institutions.

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Paper provided by ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy in its series ISLA Working Papers with number 27.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:slp:islawp:islawp27
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