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In many situations, people can lie strategically, for their own benefit. Since individuals differ with respect to their willingness to lie, the credibility of statements will crucially depend on who self-selects into such cheap-talk situations. We study this process in a two-stage political competition setting. At the entry stage, potential candidates compete in a contest to become their party’s candidate in an election. At the election stage, the nominated candidates campaign by making promises to voters. Confirming the model’s key prediction, we find in our experiment that dishonest people over-proportionally self-select into the political race and thereby lower voters’ welfare.
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