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Vote Buying: Evidence from a List Experiment in Lebanon

Dan Corstange writes:

Who sells their votes? Clientelism and vote buying are pervasive electoral practices in developing-world democracies and autocracies alike. I [Corstange] argue that buyers, regardless of regime type, prefer cheap voters, but that parties operating in uncompetitive environments are better able to price discriminate than those operating in competitive elections. I use an augmented list experiment to examine vote selling at the microlevel in Lebanon, in which both types of environment existed in its 2009 elections. I find that just over half of the electorate sold their votes, which is more than double the proportion willing to admit it. The evidence further shows that voters with low reservation prices are most likely to sell, and that monopsonistic buyers are better able to price discriminate among sellers than are dueling machines.

My comments:

This is a fascinating paper. I particularly like the speculations in the conclusion–it’s always interesting to think of wider implications. In the abstract, I would rephrase slightly, change “I find that just over half of the electorate sold their votes” to “I estimate…”

Also, I have to admit there’s something about list experiments that make me just slightly uneasy. It’s too late for this study, but maybe in a future study of this sort, you could try varying conditions in which each item (not just the vote-buying question) is removed from the list. This might offer some sort of calibration.

P.S. The paper has nice graphs. But I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend rotating them 90 degrees so I can read them without turning my computer sideways. I’m not the only one who reads papers online! Also, I recommend labeling your line directly rather than using a legend.

One Comment

  1. Steve Sailer says:

    Wasn't this the election in which Lebanese emigrants were being flown in from America to vote?