Lacking Information or Condoning Corruption: When Will Voters Support Corrupt Politicians?

Journal of Comparative Politics, 2012

35 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 15 Aug 2015

See all articles by Matthew S. Winters

Matthew S. Winters

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Political Science; Institute for Corruption Studies

Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

What explains persistent political corruption in many young democracies? Focusing on the effects of corruption on individual-level attitudes, we present two hypotheses for why citizens might be willing to cast ballots for corrupt politicians. On the one hand, voters may simply lack information about corruption. On the other hand, voters may knowingly overlook corruption when politicians otherwise perform well in office, delivering public goods to their constituents. We test these hypotheses using an embedded experiment in a nationwide survey in Brazil. The survey finds that the vast majority of voters express a willingness punish corrupt politicians, regardless of politician performance. High income voters form a partial exception to this overall rejection of corruption; they react less negatively to information about corruption and more strongly to information about competence than the general population. Our findings imply that specific, credible, and accessible information will lead most voters to punish corrupt politicians at the polls.

Keywords: corruption, government performance, Brazil, survey experiment

Suggested Citation

Winters, Matthew S. and Weitz-Shapiro, Rebecca, Lacking Information or Condoning Corruption: When Will Voters Support Corrupt Politicians? (2013). Journal of Comparative Politics, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1641615

Matthew S. Winters (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Political Science ( email )

702 S. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/mswinters1/home

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 1844
Providence, RI 02912
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://vivo.brown.edu/display/rweitzsh

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