Recent experimental work has shown that many people honor their promises, even if it is against their material interest, because they do not want to lie. The argument has been made that electoral campaigns and generous campaign promises might thus increase the benevolence of the election winner and increase welfare. Supportive evidence has been povided in laboratory elections. However, if lying aversion really drives these results, dishonest people should benefit most from running for a political office and therefore self-select into politics. We study this self-selection effect in the lab. Before candidates compete in an election by promising gifts to the voters a pool of potential candidates competes in a contest to become candidates in the election. In line with our theoretical considerations, we find that liars self-select into politics by investing more to become a candidate. Moreover, we find that this effect vanishes when the entry competition investments become visible to the voters - suggesting that transparent campaign finances are important.
Dr. Fehrler is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Konstanz. He is also affiliated to the University of Zurich. His research interests include Public Economics / Political Economy, Personnel Economics, Experimental and Behavioral Economics, as well as Applied Micro Theory.
Please also have a look at his website: http://www.sebastian-fehrler.de/