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American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: Vol. 5 No. 2 (May 2013)

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Social Capital and Political Accountability

Article Citation

Nannicini, Tommaso, Andrea Stella, Guido Tabellini, and Ugo Troiano. 2013. "Social Capital and Political Accountability." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 5(2): 222-50.

DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.2.222

Abstract

We investigate a channel through which social capital may improve economic well-being and the functioning of institutions: political accountability. The main idea is that voters who share values and beliefs that foster cooperation are more likely to vote based on criteria of social welfare rather than narrow personal interest. We frame this intuition into a simple model of political agency and take it to the data using information on the criminal prosecutions and absenteeism rates of Italian members of Parliament. Empirical evidence shows that the electoral punishment of these misbehaviors is considerably larger in districts with higher social capital. (JEL D72, I31, Z13)

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Authors

Nannicini, Tommaso (Bocconi U)
Stella, Andrea (Federal Reserve Board)
Tabellini, Guido (Bocconi U)
Troiano, Ugo (Harvard U)

JEL Classifications

D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
I31: General Welfare
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification

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