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"Read my Lips!" Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Electoral Competition on Shirking and Trust

Gari Walkowitz and Arne R. Weiss
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Gari Walkowitz: University of Cologne
Arne R. Weiss: University of Cologne

No 05-07, Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series from Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences

Abstract: We experimentally test whether electoral competition reduces shirking behavior by office-holders and increases citizens' trust. We hypothesize that competition increases campaign promises by office-holders, who feel committed to what they promise. Using a novel repeated multi-person investment-game with periodic elections, we indeed find that elected office-holders shirk less (i.e., they back-transfer more to citizens relative to investments) as compared to randomly appointed office-holders. Surprisingly, this effect cannot be explained through competition inflating the level of electoral promises. Nevertheless, promises do matter; in fact, they carry greater weight for the behavior of elected office-holders than for their randomly appointed counterparts. Elections also have a positive short-term effect on citizens' trust by cutting off both low and excessively high promises.

Keywords: elections; promises; shirking; trust game (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D02 D03 C71 C91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-exp, nep-pol and nep-soc
Date: 2014-11-30
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