NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Candidates, Character, and Corruption

B. Douglas Bernheim, Navin Kartik

NBER Working Paper No. 16530
Issued in November 2010
NBER Program(s):   PE   POL

We study the characteristics of self-selected candidates in corrupt political systems. Potential candidates differ along two dimensions of unobservable character: public spirit (altruism toward others) and honesty (the disutility suffered when selling out to special interests after securing office). Both aspects combine to determine an individual's quality as governor. We characterize properties of equilibrium candidate pools for arbitrary costs of running for office, including the case where those costs become vanishingly small. We explore how policy instruments such as the governor's compensation and anti-corruption enforcement affect the expected quality of governance through candidate self-selection. We also show that self-selection can have surprising implications for the effect of information disclosures concerning candidates' backgrounds.

download in pdf format
   (363 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (363 K) or via email.

An online appendix is available for this publication.

This paper was revised on February 19, 2013

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16530

Published: B. Douglas Bernheim & Navin Kartik, 2014. "Candidates, Character, and Corruption," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 205-46, May.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Gustman and Steinmeier w14105 How Changes in Social Security Affect Recent Retirement Trends
Gustman, Steinmeier, and Tabatabai w16501 The Growth in Social Security Benefits Among the Retirement Age Population from Increases in the Cap on Covered Earnings
Parker, Souleles, Johnson, and McClelland w16684 Consumer Spending and the Economic Stimulus Payments of 2008
Bitler and Hoynes w16504 The State of the Safety Net in the Post-Welfare Reform Era
Banerjee, Mullainathan, and Hanna w17968 Corruption
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us