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Political Accountability and Democratic Institutions: An Experimental Assessment

Jose Castillo () and John Hamman

Journal of Experimental Political Science, 2021, vol. 8, issue 2, 128-144

Abstract: We study the extent to which centralized democratic institutions enhance collective action under political accountability. In a public goods game with costly punishment, we vary the appointment of one group member to enforce punishment. Specifically, we compare democratically elected punishers to those appointed exogenously, under both single- and multiple-selection environments. We find that democratically appointed sanctioning authority has muted effects on group outcomes; yet, they contribute as much as other group members when facing repeated elections, as opposed to the ones in single selection or exogenously appointed. One important feature of modern governance to discipline authorities is political accountability; when in place, it offers different incentives, and in particular, we observe a responsibility effect reflected in higher contribution behavior. Important in our study results, this effect rises only under a democracy.

Date: 2021
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