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A growing body of evidence attests that legislators are sometimes responsive to the policy preferences of citizens in single-party regimes, yet debate surrounds the mechanisms driving this relationship. We experimentally test two potential responsiveness mechanisms—elections versus mandates from party leaders—by provisioning delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly with information on the policy preferences of their constituents and reminding them of either (1) the competitiveness of the upcoming 2021 elections or (2) a central decree that legislative activities should reflect constituents’ preferences. Consistent with existing work, delegates informed of citizens’ preferences are more likely to speak on the parliamentary floor and in closed-session caucuses. Importantly, we find that such responsiveness is entirely driven by election reminders; upward incentive reminders have virtually no effect on behavior.
Policies targeting individual companies for economic development incentives, such as tax holidays and abatements, are generally seen as inefficient, economically costly, and distortionary. Despite this evidence, politicians still choose to use these policies to claim credit for attracting investment. Thus, while fiscal incentives are economically inefficient, they pose an effective pandering strategy for politicians. Using original surveys of voters in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as data on incentive use by politicians in the US, Vietnam and Russia, this book provides compelling evidence for the use of fiscal incentives for political gain and shows how such pandering appears to be associated with growing economic inequality. As national and subnational governments surrender valuable tax revenue to attract businesses in the vain hope of long-term economic growth, they are left with fiscal shortfalls that have been filled through regressive sales taxes, police fines and penalties, and cuts to public education.