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Policy making and rent-dissipation: An experimental test

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  • David Bullock
  • E. Rutström

    ()

Abstract

We present a transfer-seeking model of political economy that links the theory of Becker (1983) with Tullock-type models of politically contestable rents. In our model the size of the transfer is determined endogenously, and over-dissipation of rents is predicted even under conditions of risk-neutrality and perfect rationality. We implement an empirical test of this model by collecting behavioral data in a laboratory experiment. We confirm the existence of behavior that leads to over-dissipation of rents in games with both symmetric and asymmetric political power. To the extent that the transfer-seeking costs are social costs, our findings imply that the total costs of running government might be greatly underestimated if the value of the rent is used as a proxy for the rent-seeking cost. We also confirm the hypotheses that lowering the political power of one player can lead to smaller rent-seeking expenditures and to larger transfers Copyright Economic Science Association 2007

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10683-006-9133-1
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 10 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 21-36

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:10:y:2007:i:1:p:21-36

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102888

Related research

Keywords: Rent-dissipation; Rent-seeking; Transfers; Experimental economics;

References

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  1. David S. Bullock & Philip Garcia, 1999. "Testing the Efficient Redistribution Hypothesis: An Application to Japanese Beef Policy," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(2), pages 408-423.
  2. Anderson, Lisa R & Stafford, Sarah L, 2003. " An Experimental Analysis of Rent Seeking under Varying Competitive Conditions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(1-2), pages 199-216, April.
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  4. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
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  6. Edward Millner & Michael Pratt, 1989. "An experimental investigation of efficient rent-seeking," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 62(2), pages 139-151, August.
  7. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 2000. "A Model of Noisy Introspection," Virginia Economics Online Papers 343, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  8. Dixit, Avinash & Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 1997. "Common Agency and Coordination: General Theory and Application to Government Policy Making," Scholarly Articles 3450061, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Shogren, Jason F & Baik, Kyung H, 1991. " Reexamining Efficient Rent-Seeking in Laboratory Markets," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 69(1), pages 69-79, February.
  10. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
  11. Andreoni, James A & Miller, John H, 1993. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(418), pages 570-85, May.
  12. Davis, Douglas D & Reilly, Robert J, 1998. " Do Too Many Cooks Always Spoil the Stew? An Experimental Analysis of Rent-Seeking and the Role of a Strategic Buyer," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 89-115, April.
  13. Jay S. Coggins, 1995. "Rent Dissipation And The Social Cost Of Price Policy," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(2), pages 147-166, 07.
  14. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D., 1993. "The Solution of the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game when R > 2 : Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Discussion Paper 1993-68, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  15. Arye L. Hillman & John G. Riley, 1987. "Politically Contestable Rents and Transfers," UCLA Economics Working Papers 452, UCLA Department of Economics.
  16. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1993. "The Solution to the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game when r>2: Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1039, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  17. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
  18. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
  19. McKelvey, Richard D. & Palfrey, Thomas R. & Weber, Roberto A., 2000. "The effects of payoff magnitude and heterogeneity on behavior in 2 x 2 games with unique mixed strategy equilibria," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 523-548, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Marco Faravelli & Luca Stanca, 2010. "When Less is More: Rationing and Rent Dissipation in Stochastic Contests," Working Papers 197, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2010.
  2. Sheremeta, Roman, 2009. "Essays on Experimental Investigation of Lottery Contests," MPRA Paper 49888, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Lisa Anderson & Beth Freeborn, 2010. "Varying the intensity of competition in a multiple prize rent seeking experiment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 237-254, April.
  4. Bullock, David S. & Mittenzwei, Klaus, 2005. "Using Evolutionary Game Theory to Examine U.S. and EU Agricultural Policy Institutions," 2005 International Congress, August 23-27, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark 24538, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  5. Shakun D. Mago & Roman M. Sheremeta & Andrew Yates, 2012. "Best-of-Three Contest Experiments: Strategic versus Psychological Momentum," Working Papers 12-30, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  6. Lim, Wooyoung & Matros, Alexander & Turocy, Theodore L., 2014. "Bounded rationality and group size in Tullock contests: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 155-167.
  7. Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2008. "The appearance of homo rivalis: Social preferences and the nature of rent seeking," Discussion Papers 2008-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  8. Meroz, Yael & Morone, Andrea & Morone, Piergiuseppe, 2009. "Eliciting environmental preferences of Ghanaians in the laboratory: An incentive-compatible experiment," MPRA Paper 17107, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Richard Cornes & Roger Hartley, 2012. "Loss Aversion in Contests," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1204, Economics, The University of Manchester.
  10. Sheremeta, Roman, 2009. "Contest Design: An Experimental Investigation," MPRA Paper 52101, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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