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

32 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2017  

Thomas Markussen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Jean-Robert Tyran

University of Vienna; University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: March 2, 2017

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.

Keywords: political selection, pro-social behavior, social dilemma, corruption, voting

JEL Classification: C92, C91, D03, D72, H41

Suggested Citation

Markussen, Thomas and Tyran, Jean-Robert, Choosing a Public-Spirited Leader. An Experimental Investigation of Political Selection (March 2, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2940232 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2940232

Thomas Markussen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

Jean-Robert Tyran (Contact Author)

University of Vienna ( email )

Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1
Vienna, Vienna 1090
Austria

HOME PAGE: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/jean-robert.tyran/

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark
+45 353 23 027 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/tyran/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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