81 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2013 Last revised: 24 Sep 2015
Date Written: November 10, 2014
Voters commonly face a choice between competent candidates and those with policy preferences similar to their own. The paper explores how electoral rules, such as district magnitude, mediate this trade-off and affect the composition of representative bodies and policy outcomes. We show formally that anticipation of bargaining over policy causes voters in elections with multiple single-member districts to prefer candidates with polarized policy positions over more competent candidates. Results from a unique field experiment in Afghanistan are consistent with these predictions. Specifically, representatives elected in elections with a single multi-member district are better educated and exhibit less extreme policy preferences.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Beath, Andrew and Christia, Fotini and Egorov, Georgy and Enikolopov, Ruben, Electoral Rules and Political Selection: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan (November 10, 2014). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2013-27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2291187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2291187