Vote-buying and anti-reciprocity: A pilot study in Bangladesh
Vote-buying is a significant challenge to the functioning of many democracies, yet the impact of vote payments on voters’ decision-making process and behavior remains poorly understood. The objective of this project is to pilot in ten communities in rural Bangladesh an informational intervention designed to disseminate information about the frequency of vote-buying, and measure the impact of this information on voters’ behavior. The proposed strategy incorporates insights from previous experimental work by the authors that has identified in a game of retrospective political accountability a backlash effect by voters who know that vote payments exist, but do not receive them. These voters are in fact more willing to punish the politician than voters in a parallel game in which no vote payments have been introduced, reducing the returns to purchasing votes for the politician. Our pilot will test for evidence of this anti-reciprocity effect in the field, working in collaboration with a non-governmental organization in Bangladesh.