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Do Corrupt Politicians Mobilize or Demobilize Voters? A Vignette Experiment in Colombia

  • Miguel Carreras (a1) and Sofia Vera (a2)

The literature studying the behavioral effects of political corruption is rapidly growing. While some studies explore the contextual and institutional factors that can neutralize the effects of corruption, this article addresses a different mechanism for weak electoral accountability for corruption: citizen (de)mobilization. It uses a vignette experiment embedded in a nationally representative AmericasBarometer survey in Colombia to isolate the causal effect of political corruption on electoral participation. The results suggest that receiving credible information about the corrupt behavior of politicians running for office decreases the likelihood of participation in elections. It also shows that corruption demobilizes voters even when corrupt politicians are able to provide public works to their constituencies, which casts doubt on the idea that citizens exchange integrity for favorable policy outcomes.

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