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

Luca Corazzini (), Sebastian Kube, Michel Andr� Mar�chal and Antonio Nicol�
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Antonio Nicolo' () and Michel André Maréchal ()

No 421, IEW - Working Papers from Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich

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.

Keywords: Costs of lying; electoral competition; laboratory experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 C92 D03 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009-07, Revised 2013-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-cdm, nep-exp and nep-pol
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (11) Track citations by RSS feed

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Journal Article: Elections and Deceptions: An Experimental Study on the Behavioral Effects of Democracy (2014) Downloads
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