32 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 2, 2017
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: 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