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Choosing a Public-Spirited Leader. An experimental investigation of political selection

Thomas Markussen () and Jean-Robert Tyran ()

No 17-04, Discussion Papers from University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics

Abstract: In this experiment, voters select a leader who can either act in the public interest, i.e. make efficient and equitable policy choices, or act in a corrupt way, i.e. use public funds for private gain. Voters can observe candidates’ pro-social behavior and their score in a cognitive ability test prior to the election, and this fact is known to candidates. Therefore, self-interested candidates have incentives to act in a pro-social manner, i.e. to pretend to be public-spirited leaders. We find that both truly pro-social and egoistic leaders co-exist, but that political selection is ineffective in choosing public-spirited leaders. The main reason is that egoistic candidates strategically pretend to be pro-social to increase their chances of winning the election.

Keywords: political selection; pro-social behavior; social dilemma; corruption; voting (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C92 C91 D03 D72 H41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-exp and nep-pol
Date: 2017-03-24
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