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Bureaucrats or Politicians?

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

Policies are typically chosen by politicians and bureaucrats. This paper investigates the criteria that should lead a society to allocate policy tasks to elected policymakers (politicians) or non elected bureaucrats. Politicians tend to be preferable for tasks that have the following features: they do not involve too much specific technical ability relative to effort; there is uncertainty ex ante about ex post preferences of the public and flexibility is valuable; time inconsistency is not an issue; small but powerful vested interests do not have large stakes in the policy outcome; effective decisions over policies require taking into account policy complementarities and compensating the losers; the policies imply redistributive conflicts among large groups of voters. The reverse apply to the attribution of prerogatives to bureaucrats.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1130.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1130

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Keywords: politics; delegation; bureaucracies;

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