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Priors rule : when do malfeasance revelations help or hurt incumbent parties?

Author: Eric Arias; Horacio Alejandro Larreguy Arbesú; John Marshall; Pablo Querubín Borrero; National Bureau of Economic Research,
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2018.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 24888.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Effective policy-making requires that voters avoid electing malfeasant politicians. However, as our simple learning model emphasizing voters' prior beliefs and updating highlights, informing voters of incumbent malfeasance may not entail sanctioning. Specifically, electoral punishment of incumbents revealed to be malfeasant is rare where voters already believed them to be malfeasant, while information's effect on  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Eric Arias; Horacio Alejandro Larreguy Arbesú; John Marshall; Pablo Querubín Borrero; National Bureau of Economic Research,
OCLC Number: 1048614229
Notes: "August 2018"
Includes online appendix (A36 pages).
Description: 1 online resource (50 pages) : illustrations, map.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 24888.
Responsibility: Eric Arias, Horacio Larreguy, John Marshall, Pablo Querubín.

Abstract:

Effective policy-making requires that voters avoid electing malfeasant politicians. However, as our simple learning model emphasizing voters' prior beliefs and updating highlights, informing voters of incumbent malfeasance may not entail sanctioning. Specifically, electoral punishment of incumbents revealed to be malfeasant is rare where voters already believed them to be malfeasant, while information's effect on turnout is non-linear in the magnitude of revealed malfeasance. These Bayesian predictions are supported by a field experiment informing Mexican voters about malfeasant mayoral spending before municipal elections. Given voters' low expectations and initial uncertainty, as well as politician responses, relatively severe malfeasance revelations increased incumbent vote share on average. Consistent with voter learning, rewards were lower among voters with lower malfeasance priors, among voters with more precise prior beliefs, when audits revealed greater malfeasance, and among voters updating less favorably. Furthermore, both low and high malfeasance revelations increased turnout, while less surprising information reduced turnout.

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