Choosing a Public-Spirited Leader. An Experimental Investigation of Political Selection

Author(s)
Thomas Markussen, Jean-Robert Tyran
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.

Organisation(s)
Department of Economics, Vienna Center for Experimental Economics
External organisation(s)
University of Copenhagen
Journal
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Volume
144
Pages
204-218
No. of pages
15
ISSN
0167-2681
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2017.09.006
Publication date
12-2017
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
Political economy, Political theory
Keywords
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/choosing-a-publicspirited-leader-an-experimental-investigation-of-political-selection(ee6d5fe4-745f-4e9a-8f36-3b1395be792e).html