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Title:The effects of revealed corruption on voter attitudes and participation: Evidence from Brazil
Author(s):Rundlett, Ashlea P.
Director of Research:Winters, Matthew
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Winters, Matthew
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cheibub, José; Kuklinski, James; Livny, Avital
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:How do voters respond to information about political corruption? Prior research provides conflicting evidence about whether information about political corruption drives voters to participate or withdraw from electoral politics, and about whether those who participate are able to remove corrupt politicians from office. This three-paper dissertation makes several contributions to this literature. The first chapter studies voters' ability to remove corrupt politicians by reevaluating Ferraz and Finan's (2008) seminal study about the effects of corruption audits in Brazil. By attempting to reproduce their results from the 2004 Brazilian municipal elections and by extending their analysis to the 2008 and 2012 elections, I call into question their well-known result that voters react to information about political corruption by removing incumbent politicians from office. The second chapter questions whether revealing corruption causes voters to withdraw from the political system entirely. Focusing on electoral turnout and the proportion of blank and null votes cast in Brazilian municipal elections, I find that releasing information about high levels of local government corruption actually causes citizens to become more engaged in the political system over time. The third chapter studies voters' political attitudes in order to understand why participation increases following the revelation of corruption. I hypothesize that because the institution that revealed corruption in Brazil was a governmental institution, this information had a positive impact on voters' political attitudes. Using survey data, I find evidence that revealing corruption increases citizens' trust in institutions and their sense of political efficacy, thereby increasing their propensity to participate in elections. Despite discouraging results in the first chapter, my findings in chapters 2 and 3 highlight additional ways in which information about corruption can enhance political accountability by increasing citizen engagement in the electoral process.
Issue Date:2018-04-19
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 by Ashlea P. Rundlett
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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