The social preferences of democratic leaders

Together with Professor Claudia Keser, we report experimental results on the differences between the social preferences of democratic leaders and those of leaders who are chosen at random or meritocratically.

Gaudeul, A. and C. Keser (2017): The social preferences of democratic leaders and the conflict between wealth generation and distribution, CIRANO Working Papers 2017s-25,

We contribute to the debate about the best forms of government by showing the positive impact of using a democratic procedure to select decision makers. We compare democratic leaders with leaders who are chosen based only on their qualification for the role. We find that democratic leaders in our experiment are more concerned about efficiency and the welfare of others.

This research is very relevant nowadays because, unlike predicted by Francis Fukuyama, democracy appears to be on the retreat globally. Indeed, Ian Morris, in a short article for the IAST, predicts the end of democracy.

We think that it is therefore interesting to point out some behavioral consequences of the use of different types of leader selection procedures. Not all leaders are alike, and democratic leaders are particularly concerned about balancing efficiency and the welfare of others. Whether that is good or bad depends on whether we think that it is important to consider both of those aspects when making policy decisions…

Some interesting recent articles to put this research in context include:

Kurlantzick, J. (2013). One step forward, two steps back. Foreign Policy,

Morris, I. (2017). The end of democracy. What happened to the Greek ideal?
IAST Connect, 11, 14–15.

Brooks, D. (2017). The Glory of Democracy, New York Times,


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