Micro Seminars EUR

Sacha Kapoor (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Stephane Wolton (London School of Economics), Giacomo Ponzetto (Centre de Recerca and University Pompeu Fabra, Spain)
Tuesday, 20 March 2018
Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burg. Oudlaan 50, Tinbergen building, room H09-02RotterdamNetherlands
Contact person(s)
Dana Sisak


15:00-16:00            Sacha Kapoor (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

The Cost of Political Representation


16:00-16:15             Coffee Break


16:15-17:15              Stephane Wolton (London School of Economics)

Wisdom of the Crowd? Information Aggregation in Representative Democracy


17:15-17:30             Coffee Break


17:30-18:30            Giacomo Ponzetto (Centre de Recerca en Economia Internacional University Pompeu Fabra)

Fundamental Errors in the Voting Booth


18:30                        Drinks



Sacha Kapoor (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
The Cost of Political Representation


Abstract: We estimate the causal effect of independent candidates on voter turnout and election outcomes in India. To do this, we exploit exogenous changes in the entry deposit candidates pay for their participation in the political process, changes that disproportionately excluded candidates with no affiliation to established political parties. A one standard deviation increase in the number of independent candidates increases voter turnout by 5-6 percentage points, as some voters choose to vote rather than stay home. The vote share of independent candidates increases by 9-10 percentage points, as some existing voters switch who they vote for. Thus, independents allow winning candidates to win with less vote share, decrease the probability of electing a candidate from the governing coalition by about 27-30 percentage points, and ultimately increase the probability of electing an ethnic-party candidate. Altogether, the results imply that the price of participation by independents is constituency representation in government.


Stephane Wolton (London School of Economics)
Wisdom of the Crowd? Information Aggregation in Representative Democracy


Abstract: In representative democracy, voters elect candidates who strategically propose policies. In a common value environment with imperfectly informed voters and candidates, we establish that intermediation by candidates can render information aggregation unfeasible even when a large electorate presented with exogenous options would almost always select the correct policy. In fact, the possibility of information aggregation encourages candidates’ conformism and stifles the competition among ideas. Neither liberalizing access to candidacy nor introducing additional frictions in voters information guarantees feasible information aggregation. Thus, the political failure we uncover is due to the intermediation by candidates-that is, the nature of representative democracy.



Giacomo Ponzetto (Centre de Recerca en Economia Internacional, University Pompeu Fabra) 

Fundamental Errors in the Voting Booth


Abstract: Psychologists have long documented that we over-attribute people’s actions to innate characteristics, rather than to luck or circumstances. Similarly, economists have found that both politicians and businessmen are rewarded for luck. In this paper, we introduce this “Fundamental Attribution Error” into two benchmark political economy models. In both models, voter irrationality can improve politicians’ behavior, because voters attribute good behavior to fixed attributes that merit reelection. This upside of irrationality is countered by suboptimal leader selection, including electing leaders who emphasize objectives that are beyond their control. The error has particularly adverse consequences for institutional choice, where it generates too little demand for a free press, too much demand for dictatorship, and responding to endemic corruption by electing new supposedly honest leaders, instead of investing in institutional reform.