Julien Labonne will give a U.S.E. seminar at Utrecht University on Oktober 11. He is an Associate Professor in Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. His research is focused on issues of clientelism, electoral politics and social networks.
Making policies matter: Voter responses to campaign promises
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 closest 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. Voters with clientelist ties to candidates do not respond to information on campaign promises. We estimate a structural model that allows us to disentangle campaign information eﬀects on beliefs (through updating) and psychological eﬀects on preferences (through making policy salient to voters). Both eﬀects are present in the data. Counterfactual exercises also demonstrate that policy and valence play a signiﬁcant quantitative role in explaining vote shares. Finally, although these campaign promises have a signiﬁcant impact, a cost-beneﬁt analysis reveals 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.