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Experiments on the Effects of Various Incentives for Politicians on Policy Choices and Deliberation

English title Experiments on the Effects of Various Incentives for Politicians on Policy Choices and Deliberation
Applicant Fehrler Sebastian
Number 150260
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Politikwissenschaft Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Economics
Start/End 01.04.2014 - 31.07.2015
Approved amount 26'742.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Economics
Political science

Keywords (7)

Transparency; Experiments; Policy Convergence; Information Aggregation; Committee Voting; Lobbying; Electoral Competition

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Viele wichtige Entscheidungen werden in Ausschüssen getroffen: Parlamentsausschüsse treffen Politikentscheidungen, Zentralbankkomitees treffen geldpolitische Entscheidungen, Auswahlkomitees in Universitäten und anderen Organisationen treffen wichtige Einstellungsentscheidungen. In diesem Forschungsprojekt untersuchen wir die Auswirkung verschiedener Anreize auf Entscheidungsverhalten und Informationsaustausch von Ausschussmitgliedern. Zudem untersuchen wir die Rolle von Wahlversprechen im Wettbewerb verschiedener Kandidaten um politische Ämter. Wir hoffen mit unseren Studien zu einem besseren Verständnis dieser Aspekte und dem Design besserer politischer Institutionen beizutragen.
Lay summary

Viele Ausschüsse setzen sich aus Mitgliedern zusammen, denen es neben den Entscheidungen, die der Ausschuss zu fällen hat, auch darum geht, als kompetent und gut informiert wahrgenommen zu werden, da sich eine solche Wahrnehmung positiv auf ihre Karrierechancen auswirkt.  Je nach Transparenzniveau, so unsere theoretischen Vorhersagen, wirken sich solche Karriereambitionen unterschiedlich auf das individuelle Deliberations- und Entscheidungsverhalten der Ausschussmitglieder aus. Es ist in der Regel unmöglich Daten über die genaue Informationsstruktur, die Beratungen und die Entscheidungen eines Ausschusses zu bekommen. Empirische Studien sind deshalb äusserst rar. Im vorliegenden Projekt untersuchen wir die Auswirkungen verschiedener Transparenzniveaus daher mit einem Laborexperiment.

Ein zweiter Aspekt, den wir untersuchen ist äussere Einflussnahme (Lobbying/ Bestechung) auf das Entscheidungsverhalten von Ausschussmitgliedern. Hier ist es naturgemäß äusserst schwierig geeignete Daten im Feld zu finden. Wir testen die Vorhersagen eines etablierten Lobbying-Modells, sowie einer eigenen Erweiterung desselben, welche eine Einflussnahme nicht nur auf das Abstimmungsverhalten sondern auch auf die zur Abstimmung stehenden Alternativen erlaubt, erneut mit Hilfe eines Laborexperiments.

Der dritte Projektteil beschäftigt sich mit der Rolle von Wahlversprechen im Wettbewerb um politische Ämter. Neben rein opportunistischen Kandidaten gibt es in der Realität auch solche, die Wahlversprechen ernst meinen und sich nach der Wahl an diese halten. Im Rahmen eines weiteren Laborexperiments wollen wir untersuchen inwieweit Wahlversprechen zu einer Konvergenz der Politikversprechen und der implementierten Politik führen. Sofern Wahlversprechen die Wahlchancen erhöhen und zumindest ein Teil der Kandidaten sich an ihre Versprechen hält, sollte mit der Möglichkeit Wahlversprechen abzugeben weniger Polarisierung zu beobachten sein, als wenn Wahlversprechen nicht möglich sind.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 14.03.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment
Fehrler Sebastian, Hughes Niall, How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment, in American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Urs Fischbacher, TWI, Kreuzlingen Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Aniol Llorente-Saguer, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Niall Hughes, European University Institute, Florence Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Alessandra Casella, Columbia University, New York United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Behavioral Seminar of the Max Planck Insititute for the Study of Collective Goods Individual talk Who runs? Honesty and Self-Selection into Politics 27.03.2017 Bonn, Germany Fehrler Sebastian;
Political Economy: Theory meets Experiment Workshop Talk given at a conference Who runs? Honesty and Self-selection into Politics 18.09.2016 Konstanz, Germany Schneider Maik Timo; Fehrler Sebastian;
Political Economy: Theory Meets Experiment Talk given at a conference Who runs? Honesty and Self-selection into Politics 20.06.2016 Bath, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Schneider Maik Timo; Fehrler Sebastian;
German Economic Association Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment 07.09.2014 Hamburg, Germany Fehrler Sebastian;
European Economic Association Meeting Talk given at a conference How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment 25.08.2014 Toulouse, France Fehrler Sebastian;
Political Economy: Theory meets Experiment Workshop Talk given at a conference How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment 09.06.2014 Zürich, Switzerland Fehrler Sebastian;
Political Economy: Theory meets Experiment Workshop Talk given at a conference Who Writes the Bill? The Role of the Maik Schneider Agenda-Setter in Legislative Lobbying 09.06.2014 Zürich, Switzerland Schneider Maik Timo;
Maastricht Behavioral Economics Symposium Talk given at a conference How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment 02.06.2014 Maastricht, Netherlands Fehrler Sebastian;


Abstract

We propose laboratory studies of several incentives that decision makers face in the political process and that are difficult or impossible to analyze using observational data. The first two studies deal with incentives for members of committees, the third with incentives for candidates in electoral competition.Many decisions are made by committees. Examples abound: Councils of ministers make important policy choices. Central bank open market committees are in charge of monetary policy decisions. Search committees in academia and other organizations have an important say in hiring decisions, and in many corporations committees of experts decide on important issues, such as investment projects. For many contexts it is plausible to assume that committee members differ in their competence and have career concerns that make them want to appear smart in the eyes of some principal (e.g., in the eyes of higher-ups in their party). Levy (2007, American Economic Review) and Visser and Swank (2007, Review of Economic Studies) have shown that such career concerns can lead to biases toward decisions that look smart to the principal, who does not observe the signals that the members receive, but would not have been favored if the principal had had this information to decide himself. How career concerns play out crucially depends on what part of the decision problem the principal can observe, i.e., the level of transparency. Building on previous contributions, we have developed a new theory of the effects of career concerns under different levels of transparency and developed an experimental design to test our theory. This is the first study we propose.The second study of committee decision making that we propose is concerns lobbying. Even though special interest influence is pervasive, it has been argued that the amount of money involved is small when the huge rents that are at stake are taken into consideration (Ansolabehere, de Figueiredo, and Snyder 2003, Journal of Economic Perspectives). With a simple game Dal Bó (2007, American Journal of Political Science) has shown that committees can be captured at very low cost if the individual votes of committee members are observable. Costless (or cheap) capture is a stark prediction but might explain why there is not more money in politics. Moreover, if it is a real threat, it might potentially explain institutional set-ups to prevent it, such as the delegation of power of committee members to a leader. Party caucuses, for example, elect leaders and provide them with some power to enforce party discipline. Such an institution would protect a committee from cheap special interest capture. We propose an experimental test of the basic set-up of the Dal Bó model and a test of a simple extention in which committee members can delegate power to a leader to study, first, whether cheap capture really works and whether it might explain the delegation of power.The third experimental study we propose deals with electoral competition and the extent of policy convergence that may be expected if there are not only opportunistic but also ``moral'' candidates that derive utility from fulfilling their promises and/or announcing and implementing policies they believe to be optimal (e.g., Callander and Wilkie 2007, Games and Economic Behavior, Kartik and McAfee 2007, American Economic Review). Contrary to the traditional view that in the absence of a commitment device policy convergence cannot be expected with completely opportunistic politicians (Alesina 1988), convergence is predicted if politicians have costs of lying (Callander and Wilkie 2007) or ``character'' (Kartik and McAfee 2007). We have developed a model that simplifies the setup of Callander and Wilkie (2007) in which some ``moral'' candidates have costs of lying by combining it with elements of the simpler setup in Alesina (1988, American Economic Review) and propose to test it experimentally. This test will shed some light on the prospects of policy convergence, thereby testing the robustness of a central prediction from standard Downsian competition models, by relaxing the crucial but unrealistic assumption of commitment to election platforms.
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