Salience and Accountability: School Infrastructure and Last-Minute Electoral Punishment

Open Access       

Authors: Nicolás Ajzenman and Ruben Durante

Economic Journal, Vol. 133, No 649, 460 - 476, January, 2023

Can seemingly unimportant factors influence voting decisions by making certain issues salient? We study this in the context of Argentina's 2015 presidential elections by examining how the infrastructure quality of the school where citizens voted influenced their choice. Exploiting the quasi-random assignment of voters to ballot stations in public schools in Buenos Aires, we show that individuals assigned to poorer infrastructure schools were less likely to vote for Mauricio Macri, the incumbent mayor running for president. The effect is larger in lower-income areas, where private education is more unusual, and in places where more households have children of school-going age.