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Bureaucratic Minimal Squawk Behavior: Theory and Evidence from Regulatory Agencies

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  • Clare Leaver
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    Abstract

    This paper develops a model in which a desire to avoid criticism prompts otherwise public-spirited bureaucrats to behave inefficiently. Decisions are taken to keep interest groups quiet and to keep mistakes out of the public eye. The policy implications of this "minimal squawk" behavior are at odds with the view that agencies should be structured to minimize the threat of "capture." An empirical test using data from US State Public Utility Commissions rejects the capture hypothesis and is consistent with the squawk hypothesis: longer PUC terms of office are associated with a higher incidence of rate reviews and lower household electricity bills. (JEL D73, L51, L97, L98)

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    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 (June)
    Pages: 572-607

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:3:p:572-607

    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.3.572
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    Cited by:
    1. Antonio Estache & Liam Wren-Lewis, 2010. "What Anti-Corruption Policy Can Learn from Theories of Sector Regulation," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2010-033, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Allen, Abigail & Ramanna, Karthik, 2013. "Towards an understanding of the role of standard setters in standard setting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 66-90.
    3. Lu, Xun & White, Halbert, 2014. "Robustness checks and robustness tests in applied economics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 178(P1), pages 194-206.
    4. Jordi Blanes i Vidal & Mirko Draca & Christian Fons-Rosen, 2010. "Revolving door lobbyists," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 31546, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Stephen Hansen & Michael McMahon, 2011. "First Impressions Matter: Signalling as a Source of Policy Dynamics," CEP Discussion Papers dp1074, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Ana I. Balsa & Michael T. French & Tracy L. Regan, 2013. "Relative Deprivation and Risky Behaviors," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1304, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
    7. Warren, Patrick L. & Wilkening, Tom S., 2012. "Regulatory fog: The role of information in regulatory persistence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 840-856.
    8. Flavio Menezes & Magnus Söderberg & Miguel Santolino, 2012. "Regulatory behaviour under threat of court reversal," Discussion Papers Series 472, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    9. Laussel, Didier & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2012. "When the squeakiest wheel gets the most oil: Exploiting one's nuisance power," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1593-1606.
    10. Russell Smyth & Magnus Söderberg, 2010. "Public interest versus regulatory capture in the Swedish electricity market," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 292-312, December.
    11. Carrión-Flores, Carmen E. & Innes, Robert & Sam, Abdoul G., 2013. "Do voluntary pollution reduction programs (VPRs) spur or deter environmental innovation? Evidence from 33/50," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 444-459.
    12. Yoh, Allison & Taylor, Brian D. & Gahbauer, John, 2012. "Does Transit Mean Business? Reconciling academic, organizational, and political perspectives on Reforming Transit Fare Policies," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6dv295b7, University of California Transportation Center.

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