Voter Response to Peak and End Transfers: Evidence from a Conditional Cash Transfer Experiment
In a Honduran field experiment, sequences of cash transfers to poor households varied in amount of the largest (“peak”) and last (“end”) transfers. Larger peak-end transfers increased voter turnout and the incumbent party’s vote share in the 2013 presidential election, independently of cumulative transfers. A plausible explanation is that voters succumbed to a common cognitive bias by applying peak-end heuristics. Another is that voters deliberately used peak-end transfers to update beliefs about the incumbent party. In either case, the results provide experimental evidence on the classic non-experimental finding that voters are especially sensitive to recent economic activity.
Samantha Finn and Caroline Gallagher provided excellent research assistance in the collection of voting data. Felipe Barrera-Osorio, Fiorella Benedetti, Kristin Butcher, Dan Fetter, Phil Levine, Kyung Park, Akila Weerapana, seminar participants, and anonymous referees provided helpful advice, without assuming responsibility for errors or interpretations. This is a substantially updated and revised version of a paper circulated as “Electoral Reciprocity in Programmatic Redistribution: Experimental Evidence.” The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Board of Directors, the countries they represent, or the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Sebastian Galiani & Nadya Hajj & Patrick J. McEwan & Pablo Ibarrarán & Nandita Krishnaswamy, 2019. "Voter Response to Peak and End Transfers: Evidence from a Conditional Cash Transfer Experiment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, vol 11(3), pages 232-260. citation courtesy of