Social Identity and the Nature of Electoral Representation

36 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2013

See all articles by Dimitri Landa

Dimitri Landa

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Dominik Duell

University of Essex

Date Written: October 15, 2013

Abstract

In a laboratory experiment, we explore the effects of group identities on the principal-agent relationship between voters and representatives. In an adverse selection framework with observable effort, voters can choose to condition their re-election choices on representatives' effort alone, beliefs about representatives' competence, or both of those jointly. We show that inducing social identities increases the weight of representatives' effort in voters' re-election decisions. Further, when voters and representatives share a social identity, representatives tend to invest less effort and their effort is independent of their competence. In contrast, "out-group" representatives compensate for lower competence with higher effort and reduce effort when voters are likely to perceive them as competent. Voters often adopt laxer retention standards for representatives who are fellow group members and are responsive to evidence of other-regardingness from out-group representatives, but some voters actively resist treating representatives with shared identity more favorably and "overcorrect" as a consequence.

Keywords: Social Identity, Political Economy of Representation, Experimental Methods

Suggested Citation

Landa, Dimitri and Duell, Dominik, Social Identity and the Nature of Electoral Representation (October 15, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2340627 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2340627

Dimitri Landa

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States

Dominik Duell (Contact Author)

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Department of Government
Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom
+447703145012 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.dominikduell.com

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