Grant Title: Value for Money in Buying Votes
Grant Period: May 2014 – May 2015
The Williams College research team studied how vote-buying influences voter behavior using a laboratory game implemented at Harvard University in the US and the Busara Centre for Behavioral Economics in Kenya. Key findings include:
- If subjects knew that vote payments were being distributed, but did not receive a payment, they were less forgiving of the politician’s choice to expropriate a common resource and less likely to vote for the politician—implying that exposing or publicizing vote-buying may meaningfully alter its effectiveness.
- If subjects received a vote payment and knowingly consented to receive it, they were more forgiving of the politician’s choice to expropriate and more likely to vote for the politician; however, if they received the payment and did not consent to receive it, their behavior did not change significantly. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis of this research that vote-buying is effective at changing ballot box results primarily when the targeted voter is actively engaged in the process.