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Elections and deceptions: an experimental study on the behavioral effects of democracy

Author

Listed:
  • Luca Corazzini
  • Sebastian Kube
  • Michel Andr� Mar�chal
  • Antonio Nicol�

Abstract

Traditionally, the virtue of democratic elections has been seen in their role as means of screening and sanctioning shirking public officials. This paper proposes a novel rationale for elections and political campaigns considering that candidates incur psychological costs of lying, in particular from breaking campaign promises. These non-pecuniary costs imply that campaigns influence subsequent behavior, even in the absence of reputational or image concerns. Our lab experiments reveal that promises are more than cheap talk. They influence the behavior of both voters and their representatives. We observe that the electorate is better off when their leaders are elected democratically rather than being appointed exogenously - but only in the presence of electoral campaigns. In addition, we find that representatives are more likely to serve the public interest when their approval rates are high. Altogether, our results suggest that elections and campaigns confer important benefits beyond their screening and sanctioning functions.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Corazzini & Sebastian Kube & Michel Andr� Mar�chal & Antonio Nicol�, 2009. "Elections and deceptions: an experimental study on the behavioral effects of democracy," IEW - Working Papers 421, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Aug 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:421
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Rosaz, Julie & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2012. "Lies and biased evaluation: A real-effort experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 537-549.
    2. Daniel Houser & Sandra Ludwig & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "Does Deceptive Advertising Reduce Political Participation? Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1011, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
    3. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao, 2011. "Classification of natural language messages using a coordination game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(1), pages 1-14, March.
    4. Markussen, Thomas & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2017. "Choosing a public-spirited leader: An experimental investigation of political selection," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 204-218.
    5. Fabio Galeotti & Daniel John Zizzo, 2014. "Competence versus trustworthiness: what do voters care about?," Post-Print halshs-01096217, HAL.
    6. Prasenjit Banerjee & Vegard Iversen & Sandip Mitra & Antonio Nicolò & Kunal Sen, 2018. "Politicians and their promises in an uncertain world: Evidence from a lab-in-the-field experiment in India," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1806, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    7. Philippos Louis & Matias Núñez & Dimitrios Xefteris, 2018. "Beyond Outcomes: Experimental Evidence on the Value of Agreement," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 05-2018, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    8. G. Bellettini & P. Roberti, 2016. "Politicians' coherence and government debt," Working Papers wp1087, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Costs of lying; electoral competition; laboratory experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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