Program on Political Economy Seminar


Thursday, November 14, 2019, 4:30pm to 5:45pm


Hansen/Mason Room (3rd floor lounge), Littauer Center

Today's presenter: Cesi Cruz (University of British Columbia) presents "Making Policies Matter: Voter Responses to Campaign Promises"

All interested faculty and students are invited to attend. 

Abstract: "Do campaign promises matter? Despite pathbreaking work on information and voting, there is still uncertainty about how voters interpret and respond to campaign information, especially in consolidating democracies where policy promises are rarely the currency of electoral competition. We use a novel approach combining a structural model with a large-scale field experiment to disentangle the eects of information through learning and psychological channels. We elicit multidimensional policy platforms from political candidates in consecutive mayoral elections in the Philippines and show that voters who are randomly informed about these promises rationally update their beliefs about candidates, along both policy and valence dimensions. Those who receive information about current campaign promises are more likely to vote for candidates with policy promises closer to their own preferences. Those informed about current and past campaign promises reward incumbents who fulfilled their past promises, as they perceive them to be more honest and competent. The structural model shows that eects operate through both learning and psychological mechanisms. Treated voters update their subjective beliefs about candidates and increase the weight on policy issues in their utility function. Counterfactual exercises also demonstrate that policy and valence play a significant quantitative role in explaining vote shares and can attenuate the importance of vote buying. At the same time, although these campaign promises have a significant impact, we also show that vote buying is more cost effective than information campaigns, establishing a rationale for why candidates in these environments do not use them in practice." (paper attached below)

Co-sponsored by FAS and IQSS, the Program on Political Economy (PE) supports research-related activities that integrate the study of economics and politics, whether by studying economic behavior in the political process or political behavior in the marketplace. In general, positive political economy is concerned with showing how observed differences among institutions affect political and economic outcomes in various social, economic, and political systems and how the institutions themselves change and develop in response to individual and collective beliefs, preferences, and strategies. 


cesi-cruz_making_promises_matter_6102019.pdf1.21 MB