Trust in politicians can influence government turnover, economic and government performance as well as the demand side of policy-making – voters' preferences over policies. In this paper I study how a lack of trust in politicians influences the supply side – policy provision. Using data on 63,000 legislative documents, 75,000 individual roll-call voting decisions as well as survey evidence for more than 2,000 candidates in German federal elections between 2009 and 2021, I show that low political trust leads politicians to be less concerned with the provision of many types of public goods - most importantly climate protection. In order to establish causality of these results, I follow an instrumental variable approach. My instrument functions similar to a shift-share instrument and leverages variation in internal migration patterns and differential exposure to common state-level shocks to political trust. An analysis of the underlying mechanism suggests that the results are mostly driven by the selection of different politicians rather than pandering to voters' preferences.
How does competition affect the entry and selection of politicians? I use data on U.S. Congressional primary and general elections for the years 1998-2014 to study this question. I measure quality using previous legislative experience and a measure of descriptive representation quantifying how well candidates represent their district demographically. To identify causal effects, I rely on variation in competition caused by decennial redistricting. Difference-in-differences estimates reveal differences between the electorally dominant and weak party. Experienced candidates and descriptively representative candidates enter relatively more frequently in primary elections in the weak party as competition increases. The reverse holds in the strong party. Both effects overall cancel out so that there are no effects on the quality of elected representatives. Investigating the mechanisms of the entry effect, I find that potential candidates respond to preferences of party members over valence, which play a larger role in competitive elections.
– with Eberhard Feess and Helge Müller
Biases in legal decision making are difficult to identify as type II errors (wrongful acquittals) are hardly observable and type I errors (wrongful convictions) are only observed for the subsample of subsequently exonerated convicts. Our data on the first German soccer league allows us to classify each referee decision accurately as correct, type I error or type II error. The potential bias we are interested in is favoritism towards clubs with higher long-term status, proxied by the ranking in the all-time table at the beginning of each session and by membership. Higher-status clubs benefit largely from fewer type II errors. By contrast, the actual strength of clubs has no impact on referee decisions. We find no difference in type I errors and suggest anticipation of the bias as a potential explanation for the difference. We investigate several mechanisms potentially underlying our results; including career concerns and social pressure.