(Dis)Honest Politicians and the Value of Transparency for Campaign Promises

66 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2020

See all articles by Matthias Lang

Matthias Lang

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Simeon Schudy

University of Munich (LMU)

Date Written: June 23, 2020

Abstract

Promises are prevalent in many competitive environments, but promise keeping is often difficult to observe. Do promises still offer an opportunity to honor future obligations, if promise keeping is unobservable? Focusing on campaign promises, we study the value of transparency. We showhow preferences for truth-telling shape promise competition when promise keeping can(not) be observed. We identify the causal effects of transparency in a laboratory experiment. Transparency leads to less generous promises, but also to less promise breaking. Nonetheless, officials appropriate similar rents as in opaque institutions. Preferences for truth-telling and (instrumental) reputational concerns explain these results.

Keywords: prospective voting, retrospective voting, promises, promise breaking, lying costs, preferences for truth-telling, experiment

JEL Classification: C910, C920, D720, D730

Suggested Citation

Lang, Matthias and Schudy, Simeon, (Dis)Honest Politicians and the Value of Transparency for Campaign Promises (June 23, 2020). CESifo Working Paper No. 8366, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3633649

Matthias Lang (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Simeon Schudy

University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany
+49 89 2180 9786 (Phone)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
25
Abstract Views
112
PlumX Metrics