DP11338 Does 'Being Chosen' to Lead Induce Non-Selfish Behavior? Experimental Evidence on Reciprocity

Author(s): Allan Drazen, Erkut Ozbay
Publication Date: June 2016
Keyword(s): Citizen-Candidate, Dictator Game, leaders, Reciprocity
JEL(s): C91, D64, D72
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11338

We present experimental evidence that policies chosen by leaders depend on whether they were elected or appointed. Consistent with previous studies of the "dictator game"?, we find that unitary policymakers do not always act selfishly, that is, choose a policy that maximizes their own payoffs. However, the way in which one became the leader matters. Leaders who are elected are significantly more likely to choose a policy not equal to their "type"? than leaders who are appointed. Elected leaders who act non-selfishly will favor the voter rather than 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. They also show that candidates do not simply implement their own preferences once in office, as suggested by the basic citizen-candidate model.