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Politicians and their promises in an uncertain world: Evidence from a lab-in-the-field experiment in India

Kunal Sen (), Banerjee Prasenjit, Iversen Vegard, Mitra Sandip and Nicol² Antonio

No wp-2019-60, WIDER Working Paper Series from World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER)

Abstract: In emerging economies, pro-social policy outcomes may be prevented by bureaucratic‚ inefficiency, capture by elected or non-elected office holders, or by other hurdles. For local‚ citizens, uncertainty about the true cause of such failures often prevails.We study the pro-sociality‚ of politicians¢â‚¬â„¢ decision-making in a modified dictator game with real politician participants in rural‚ India. In our game, a recipient citizen does not know whether dictator politician capture or bad‚ luck is to blame when receiving zero. Using a 2 ƒâ€” 2 design, we investigate how the combination‚ of two non-monetary instruments affect politician behaviour in this hard to govern environment.‚ The first instrument, a (non-binding) promise, is a commitment device; the second introduces a‚ minimal relational lever between the politician and the recipient. We find that politician-dictator‚ giving becomes dramatically more pro-social, from zero to 50:50-giving, when these two‚ instruments are combined.Our results provide new insights about the scope for norm-based, lowcost‚ mechanisms to tackle governance-related asymmetric information challenges in developingcountry settings.

Keywords: Asymmetric information; Field experiment; Politician; promise (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp
Date: 2019
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