Incumbent Advantage, Voter Information and Vote Buying
December 1, 2016DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series

Results from a new experiment shed light on the effects of voter information on vote buying and incumbent advantage. The treatment provided voters with information about a major spending program and the proposed allocations and promises of mayoral candidates just prior to municipal elections. It left voters more knowledgeable about candidates’ proposed policies and increased the salience of spending, but did not affect vote shares and turnout. Treated voters were more likely to be targeted for vote buying. We develop a model of vote buying that accounts for these results. The information raised voter expectations regarding incumbent performance, especially in incumbent strongholds. Incumbents increased vote buying in response. Consistent with this explanation, both knowledge and vote buying impacts were higher in municipalities with dominant incumbents. Our findings show that, in a political environment where vote buying is the currency of electoral mobilization, incumbent efforts to increase voter welfare may take the form of greater vote buying.

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  • Julien Labonne

    Associate Professor, Economics and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government (BSG), University of Oxford
    Julien Labonne is an Associate Professor in Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government (BSG), University of Oxford. His research is focused on issues of clientelism, electoral politics and social networks. He carries out field experiments, designs household surveys and uses large-scale datasets to test models of voter and politician behavior in developing countries. He has a particular interest in Southeast Asia and most of his fieldwork takes place in the Philippines. Prior to joining BSG, Julien was an Assistant Professor of Social Sciences (Economics) at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and completed his PhD in the Economics Department at the University of Oxford. Julien previously worked at the World Bank and has consulted for the Asia Foundation, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the OECD. Julien also holds Master degrees from the University of Oxford, University College London and ENSAE Paris Tech.
  • WHEN: Thursday, December 1, 2016; 12:30-2:00PM
  • WHERE: World Bank Malaysia Office, Level 3, Sasana Kijang, No. 2, Jalan Dato’ Onn
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, November 30, 2016