Birds of a feather flock together: trust in government, political selection and electoral punishment

  • Massimo Finocchiaro CastroEmail author
  • Calogero Guccio


Although often at the heart of the public debate, the underlying determinants of political selection and voters’ punishment of corrupt politicians remain poorly investigated. This paper contributes to our understanding of those issues by showing that places, such as Italy, where social norms are weak and trust in government is low, also feature adverse political selection and low levels of electoral punishment of corrupt politicians. Our measure of trust in government is based on the occurrence of cheating by Italian schoolteachers. We show that untrustworthiness is strongly related to both the malfeasance of local representatives and to low levels of electoral punishment of them.


Trust in government Social capital Legal corruption Political corruption Electoral punishment 

JEL Classification

P16 D72 Z13 



We thank the Editor-in-chief, the two guest editors of the special issue on Legal Corruption and, two anonymous referees for comments and suggestions. We are also indebted to all the participants to the ICS 2nd Workshop on Corruption, Ilinois State University, Chicago, for stimulating discussions. Finally, special thanks go to Juan F. Vargas for his contribution in enhancing the first version of the manuscript; Francesco Drago, Domenico Lisi and, Angelo Mazza, for their invaluable help in improving our work.

Supplementary material

11127_2019_759_MOESM1_ESM.docx (54 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 53 kb)


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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Law, Economics and HumanitiesMediterranean University of Reggio CalabriaReggio CalabriaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Economic and BusinessUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  3. 3.Health Econometrics and Data GroupUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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