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Deliberative Structures and their Impact on Voting Behavior under Social Conflict

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Working paper
Jordi Brandts, Leonie Gerhards and Lydia Mechtenberg
Issue number: 
1022 | February 2018
Barcelona GSE Working Paper Series
Barcelona Graduate School of Economics
Inequalities in democracies are multi-faceted. They not only incorporate differences in economic opportunities, but also differences in access to information and social influence. In a lab experiment, we study the interaction of these inequalities to provide a better understanding of socio-political tensions in modern societies. We identify the tragedy of the elite, the dilemma that privileged access to information about a fundamental state that mediates political conflict creates lying incentives for the better informed. In our experiment, an electorate consists of two groups, one informed and one uninformed about an uncertain state of the world. Incentives depend on this state. Before voting the two groups can communicate. We study four different communication protocols which vary the access to communication channels of the two groups and are meant to represent societies with different degrees of openness. We hypothesize that the deliberative structures affect group identities, preferences, and voting. Our observed outcomes largely coincide with those predicted by our theoretical analysis.
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