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A Political Theory of Populism

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Georgy Egorov
  • Konstantin Sonin

Abstract

Populism is described as an ideology which contrasts the interests of the people and the elite, and calls for defense of the interests of the former. In reality, populist politicians are often seen conducting macroeconomic policies that can be hardly justified by the benefits they provide to the very poorest; in many instances, these policies were far to the left of the majority's preference. In this paper, we explain why even a moderate politician seeking reelection may choose leftist policies. The leftist bias is higher when the polarization is high, or when the political class is predominantly occupied by the rich elite. We extend the model to study the environment where some politicians are corrupt and some are not and reach similar conclusions.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 786969000000000281.

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Date of creation: 20 Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:786969000000000281

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2011. "Emergence And Persistence Of Inefficient States," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 177-208, 04.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2009. "Political Selection and Persistence of Bad Governments," NBER Working Papers 15230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers, Penn Economics Department ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000870, David K. Levine.
  5. Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2005. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 347-373, March.
  6. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2005. "A Drawback Of Electoral Competition," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1318-1348, December.
  7. Rudiger Dornbusch & Sebastian Edwards, 1991. "Introduction to "The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America"," NBER Chapters, in: The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1989. "Social Conflict and Populist Policies in Latin America," NBER Working Papers 2897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part II: Multiple Policy Tasks," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000875, David K. Levine.
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  16. Binswanger, J. & Prüfer, J., 2008. "Imperfect Information, Democracy and Populism," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center 2008-040, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
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Cited by:
  1. Caselli, Francesco & Cunningham, Tom & Morelli, Massimo & Moreno de Barreda, Inés, 2012. "Signalling, Incumbency Advantage, and Optimal Reelection Thresholds," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 8832, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Darryl McLeod & Nora Lustig, 2010. "Inequality and Poverty under Latin America's New Left Regimes," Fordham Economics Discussion Paper Series, Fordham University, Department of Economics dp2010-13, Fordham University, Department of Economics.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2013. "Why Do Voters Dismantle Checks and Balances?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(3), pages 845-875.
  4. Egil Matsen & Ragnar Torvik & Gisle J. Natvik, 2012. "Petro populism," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology 12812, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Alexander Wolitzky, 2012. "Cycles of Distrust: An Economic Model," NBER Working Papers 18257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Richard Van Weelden & Massimo Morelli, 2012. "Reelection through Division," 2012 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 111, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Manoel Bittencourt, 2012. "Democracy, populism and hyperinflation: some evidence from Latin America," Economics of Governance, Springer, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 311-332, December.
  8. Manoel Bittencourt, 2012. "Economic Growth and Government Debt: Evidence from the Young Democracies of Latin America," Working Papers 201203, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
  9. Cont, Walter & Hancevic, Pedro & Navajas, Fernando H., 2011. "Energy populism and household welfare," MPRA Paper 35725, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Yakovlev, Pavel & Tosun, Mehmet S. & Lewis, William P., 2012. "Legislative Term Limits and State Aid to Local Governments," IZA Discussion Papers 6456, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Francesco Caselli & Tom Cunningham & Massimo Morelli & Inés Moreno de Barreda, 2012. "Signalling, Incumbency Advantage, and Optimal Reelection Rules," CEP Discussion Papers dp1122, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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