End Heuristics in Retrospective Voting: Evidence from a Conditional Cash Transfer Experiment

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
11:30 AM - 12:45 PM

Philippines Room Encina Hall East, 3rd floor

 616 Serra St. Stanford, CA 94305

  • Patrick McEwan

About the Speaker: Patrick McEwan is a Professor of Economics at Wellesley College. He conducts research on education and social policy in developing countries, especially in Latin America. He is especially interested in identifying the causal impact of policies on the schooling, health, and economic outcomes of children and their families. In past research, he has explored the impact of conditional cash transfers and rural school reform in Honduras, of youth orchestras in Venezuela, and of private school vouchers and free school meals in Chile.



Abstract: A Honduran field experiment allocated cash transfers that varied in their amount and timing. Voters were not indifferent to timing. Two groups of villages received similar cumulative payments per registered voter, but one received larger “catch-up” payments closer to election day. The latter treatment had larger effects on voter turnout and incumbent party vote share in the 2013 presidential elections. The results are consistent with lab experiments showing that individuals err in their retrospective evaluations of payment sequences. In Honduras, voters apparently used the amount of the final payment as an end heuristic for the sum of all payments received.