Electoral Rules and Political Selection: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment, Review of Economic Studies
Voters commonly face a choice between competent candidates and those with policy preferences similar to their own. This paper explores how electoral rules, such as district magnitude, mediate this trade-off and affect the composition of representative bodies and policy outcomes. We show formally that anticipation of bargaining over policy causes voters in elections with multiple single-member districts to prefer candidates with polarized policy positions over more competent candidates. Results from a unique field experiment in Afghanistan are consistent with these predictions. Specifically, representatives elected in elections with a single multi-member district are better educated and exhibit less extreme policy preferences.
Andrew Beath, Fotini Christia, Georgy Egorov, Ruben Enikolopov
Beath, Andrew, Fotini Christia, Georgy Egorov, and Ruben Enikolopov. 2016. Electoral Rules and Political Selection: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment. Review of Economic Studies. 83(3): 932-968.