Condemning corruption while condoning inefficiency: an experimental investigation into voting behavior

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This article reports results from an economic experiment that investigates to what extent voters punish corruption and waste in elections. While both are responsible for a loss of welfare for voters, they are not necessarily perceived as equally immoral. The empirical literature in political agency has not yet dealt with these two dimensions that determine voters’ choices. Our results suggest that morality and norms are indeed crucial for a superior voting equilibrium in systems with heterogeneous politicians: while corruption is always punished, self-interest alone – in the absence of norms – leads to the acceptance and perpetuation of waste and social losses.

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