Defamation or Dirty Laundry? Income Inequality Encourages Politicians to Conceal Vote-Buying


When do elected politicians attempt to censor information about their vote-buying efforts? We develop a formal model that explains how variation in income within democracies affects politicians' incentives, both to buy votes, and to limit public access to information about such activity. We test the model's predictions using clientelism and censorship data from a variety of sources, including the Varieties of Democracy project and internet firm transparency reports.

Dan Pemstein, assistant professor of political science at North Dakota State University, is the principal designer of the Varieties of Democracy (VDem) measurement model. He specializes in comparative legislative studies, political economy, and methodology, with research focusing on how career ambition, party organization, and inter-institutional bargaining constraints interact to determine legislative behavior and policy outcomes in the European Union.

Other projects focus on digital political economy and explore questions of measurement in both legislative and comparative politics. Pemstein serves as project manager for measurement methods for the Varieties of Democracy project and has codeveloped Unified Democracy Scores, a set of measures that provides a composite scale of democracy.

He holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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