Information, Voting Behavior and Electoral Accountability
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Essay 1: In this paper, I investigate the causal effect of information on citizens’ ability to hold their elected politicians accountable for past behavior. Using survey data from the 2006 U.S. Senate election, I relate the survey respondents’ opinions on a number of different policy issues that had been voted on in the Senate to their knowledge of how their senators voted. In combination with the senators’ actual roll-call voting records, this provides the ideal setting for testing whether more knowledgeable voters are more likely to evaluate their incumbent politicians based on their behavior in office. To estimate the causal effect of information, I use the mismatch between the local television markets and the states as an exogenous variation in citizens’ knowledge of their senators’ roll-call voting records. I show that citizens with access to relevant local television news are more informed about the roll-call votes and are also more likely to evaluate the senators based on how well the voting records of those senators match the citizens’ preferences.
Essay 2 (with Eva Mörk) In this paper, we analyze how voters react to tax changes. As opposed to much of the earlier literature, we argue that voters’ responses are likely to depend on voters’ preferences regarding the size of the public sector, i.e., voters who like to see a large public sector are less likely to punish an incumbent for raising taxes. The mechanism behind such a behavior is analyzed in a two-party model with hidden information about politicians’ preferences. We show that, in equilibrium, moderate politicians will try to signal their preferences to the voters through public consumption. The model yields two testable hypotheses: (i) Voters will punish left-wing incumbents, but reward right-wing incumbents, for high taxes. (ii) Voters who prefer a large public sector will reward incumbents who raise taxes. We test these two hypotheses on Swedish local governments. Using survey data, together with data on local tax rates, we are able to compare voters’ preferences at the beginning of an election term with the actual policies implemented by the incumbent while in office and, finally, with the voters’ responses to these policies in the election at the end of the election term. We find support for both hypotheses: Left-wing incumbents are punished for tax increases during their time in office while no such pattern is found for right-wing incumbents, and voters who prefer a large government sector are less likely to punish incumbents for tax increases.
Essay 3: In this paper, I investigate how political information affects voting behavior. Specifically, I test (i) if more informed voters are more likely to vote for their closest politicians and (ii) if this translates into a bias on the aggregate level. To do so, I use a set of Swedish individual survey data on the preferences for local public services of both politicians and voters, which provides an opportunity to investigate how information affects voters’ ability to match their preferences with those of their politicians. The results indicate that more informed voters are more likely to vote for politicians with similar preferences for local public services and, on the aggregate level, that the left-wing parties would have received 1 to 3 percentage points fewer votes if all voters had been equally well-informed.
Essay 4: (with Che-Yuan Liang) In this paper, we investigate the effects of the rise of the Internet, as an additional mass medium, on news consumption patterns and political attitudes. We use Swedish survey data from 2002 to 2007, the period during which online news media emerged. We find that broadband access is associated with an increase in online media consumption which, to some extent, crowds out offline consumption. Furthermore, these altered news consumption patterns have no or small effects on political attitudes.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Economics , 2012. , 187 p.
Economic studies, ISSN 0283-7668 ; 131
Information, Voting Behavior, Electoral Accountability, Principal-Agent, Vote Aggregation, Mass Media, News Consumption
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-185531ISBN: 978-91-85519-38-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-185531DiVA: diva2:572036
2013-01-18, B115, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Bordignon, Massimo, Professor
Mörk, Eva, Professor