Does “Being Chosen to Lead” Induce Non-selfish Behavior? Experimental Evidence on Reciprocity

Allan Drazen, Erkut Ozbay, Journal of Public Economics 174, 13-21, April .


We present experimental evidence that policies chosen by leaders depend on whether they were elected or appointed, and that this difference stems from how they are chosen per se, rather than on other explanations given in empirical studies. We find that elected leaders are significantly more likely to choose a non-selfish policy than leaders who are appointed. Elected leaders who act non-selfishly will favor the voter over the losing candidate, while appointed leaders show no tendency to favor the voter over the losing candidate. Our results provide support for the view that non-selfish behavior of leaders reflects a reciprocity motive; candidates do not simply implement their own preferences once in office, as suggested by the basic citizen–candidate model.

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