Electoral Systems, Competition, and Incentives for Corruption


Electoral rules (Persson et al. 2003; Kunicova and Rose-Ackerman 2005) and competition (Charron 2011) affects the incentives for corruption. While there exists considerable empirical work, the literature on the microfoundations of agents’ incentives is sparse. This paper fills this gap by construct the microfoundations under a wide set of electoral rules. It provides an understanding of why we might witness variation in corruption when these institutions change. It finds that degree of competition is an important factor in determining the degree to which politicians face investigations. These results underscore the importance of electoral institutions as a fundamental cause of changes in corruption levels. The study has implications for the design of such institutions.

Link: SSRN

When Does Clientelism Pay Off? Legislature Size and Welfare in Brazil (with G. Cepaluni)

What is the effect of clientelism on voters’ welfare? This paper shows that clientelism may occasionally improve welfare. Starting with a model of clientelistic services provision, we investigate which types of services clientelism impacts on. We take advantage of exogenous changes in city-council size in Brazil to test our theory, varying the number of councilors in highly clientelistic settings. While we find that the addition of a councilor(s) has a null effect on education quality and preventive health care, we do observe improvements in infant mortality and primary school enrollment. Additionally, we find that more councilors increase patronage and that councilors believe they benefit electorally from clientelism. In sum, increasing clientelistic supply improves those public services voters want and which clientelistic machines can capture. This skews policy enhancement away from welfare services that are not electorally promising.

The Art of not Being Coerced: How Outside Options Shape Elections in Weakly Institutionalized Democracies (with R. Sexton)


Norms of democratic practice have become a pre-condition for access to aid, trade, and international forums for many poor countries. In this article, we present a theory of captured electoral democracy in which local bosses or caudillos use coercion and/or fraud deliver votes for ruling party, particularly in peripheral regions, in exchange for wide authority to extract economic rents between elections. As articulated by Scott (2009), this electoral pressure further incentivizes citizens to evade the local agents of state, however their capacity to avoid being “governed” depends on the viability of subsistence activities in the periphery. Using exogenous variation in drought conditions in Paraguay and Afghanistan, we show that a strong outside option for citizen dramatically increases the level of electoral fraud in ruling party vote totals, while decreasing the level of violent coercion voters are exposed to. These results suggest that there is a dark side to international norms of democracy: when economic times are tough for rural voters elections expose them to increased violent coercion, without any real chance to affect the outcome of the election.

International Institutions and Rogue States Deterrence (with C. Hafer)

un_sec_council_by_neptuulWhat is the effect of International Institutions on Rogue State’s deterrence? While some policymakers believe that institutions like UN mostly provide Rogue States information and time to take their actions, others advocate that they may create effective means to deter and slow down the Rogue States. In this paper we develop a model containing the key features in the Rogue States deterrence interaction: the fact that countries have incomplete information about the resolve the Rogue State has to carry on with the aggression, as well as the fact that they have incomplete information about how much the other countries are being harmed by the Rogue State’s actions. We show that all players, regardless of their types, prefer some form of international institution than no institutions. However, there is no consensus on which institution countries should use. We derive the institution setting that generate the maximum ex-ante level of deterrence and we show that Rogue State’s aggressions are monotonic in the level of deterrence. This implies that conditional on fighting, the fights are more costly the higher the deterrence levels. Our results have implications for the design of international security institutions.

Incentives for Preventive Health Care Provision: The Brazilian Case


Mosquito-borne diseases are among the leading causes of death in humans. The recent Zika virus epidemics highlight the dangers of the Aedes Aegypti, especially for infants and pregnant woman. Since the efforts to combat the epidemic are usually driven by community-based health interventions, I propose a field experiment to measure how to optimally incentivize the community health care agents in Brazil. The experiment will consist of hired and trained subjects to visit houses and help residents to identify Aedes Aegypti breeding sites. I will randomly assign performance monetary rewards and pro-social incentives to subjects. Their performance will be monitored using cell phone data and position. After the intervention, I will apply a post-treatment survey, and during six months I will monitor the incidence of diseases transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti (mainly Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya). My goal is to measure the impact of the overall intervention, and also to find the optimal combination of incentives to maximize the benefits of these policies.