Punishing Mayors Who Fail the Test: How do Voters Respond to Information on Educational Outcomes?
Francisco Gallego; Loreto Cox; Sylvia Eyzaguirre y Maximiliano García
Documento de Trabajo IE-PUC, N° 555, 2020
Abstract: This paper explores the role of providing information on the educational outcomes of municipal schools to voters on their electoral behavior in elections in which the incumbent mayor is running for reelection in Chile. We designed and implemented a randomized experiment whereby we sent 128,033 letters to voters with: (i) information on past test scores for local public schools (levels and changes), and (ii) different yardsticks, specifically the average and maximum test scores for comparable municipalities. We find that providing information of the relative performance affects turnout, which translates almost one-to-one into votes for the incumbent mayor, and produces spillovers on the election of local councilors. Results are concentrated in polling stations where most voters had already
participated in previous elections. They are especially strong when educational results are bad and in stations that had stronger support for the incumbent mayor in the previous election, reducing turnout and thus votes for the incumbent.
JEL Codes: D72, H75, I25.