Looking Beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes

42 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2012  

Alberto Chong

University of Ottawa

Ana L. De La O

Yale University

Dean S. Karlan

Yale University; Innovations for Poverty Action; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Leonard Wantchekon

Princeton University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2012

Abstract

Does information about rampant political corruption increase electoral participation and the support for challenger parties? Democratic theory assumes that offering more information to voters will enhance electoral accountability. However, if there is consistent evidence suggesting that voters punish corrupt incumbents, it is unclear whether this translates into increased support for challengers and higher political participation. We provide experimental evidence that information about copious corruption not only decreases incumbent support in local elections in Mexico, but also decreases voter turnout, challengers' votes, and erodes voters' identification with the party of the corrupt incumbent. Our results suggest that while flows of information are necessary, they may be insufficient to improve political accountability, since voters may respond to information by withdrawing from the political process. We conclude with a discussion of the institutional contexts that could allow increased access to information to promote government accountability.

Keywords: Accountability, Corruption, Elections, Information, Voting

JEL Classification: D72, D73, D82, D83

Suggested Citation

Chong, Alberto and De La O, Ana L. and Karlan, Dean S. and Wantchekon, Leonard, Looking Beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes (January 2012). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8790. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1995974

Alberto Chong (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa ( email )

2292 Edwin Crescent
Ottawa, Ontario K2C 1H7
Canada

Ana L. De La O Torres

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Dean S. Karlan

Yale University ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab ( email )

E60-246
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Leonard Wantchekon

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States

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