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Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

This paper investigates the normative criteria that guide the allocation of a policy task to an elected politician versus an independent bureaucrat. The bureaucrat is preferable for technical tasks for which ability is more important than effort, or if there is great uncertainty about whether the policymaker has the required abilities. The optimal allocation of redistributive tasks is ambiguous, and depends on how the bureaucrat can be instructed. But irrespective of the normative conclusion, the politician prefers not to delegate redistributive policies. (JEL D72, D73, D82)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.97.1.169
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 97 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 169-179

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:1:p:169-179

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.1.169
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References

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  1. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "Bureaucrats or Politicians?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 784828000000000638, David K. Levine.
  2. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  4. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
  5. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The economics of career concerns: part 1 :comparing information structures," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9617, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. Besley, Timothy J. & Coate, Stephen, 2000. "Elected Versus Appointed Regulators: Theory And Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Christian Schultz, 2003. "Information, Polarization and Delegation in Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1104, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Eric Maskin, 2003. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000076, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  10. Dewatripont, Mathias & Jewitt, Ian & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217, January.
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