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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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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & Alexander Wolitzky, 2012. "Cycles of Distrust: An Economic Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000502, David K. Levine.
  5. Francesco Caselli & Thomas E. Cunningham & Massimo Morelli & Inés Moreno de Barreda, 2012. "Signalling, Incumbency Advantage, and Optimal Reelection Thresholds," NBER Working Papers 17833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Egil Matsen & Ragnar Torvik & Gisle J. Natvik, 2012. "Petro populism," Working Paper Series 12812, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
  7. Manoel Bittencourt, 2010. "Democracy, Populism and Hyperinflation(s): Some Evidence from Latin America," Working Papers 169, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  8. Darryl McLeod & Nora Lustig, 2010. "Inequality and Poverty under Latin America's New Left Regimes," Fordham Economics Discussion Paper Series dp2010-13, Fordham University, 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. 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.
  11. Richard Van Weelden & Massimo Morelli, 2012. "Reelection through Division," 2012 Meeting Papers 111, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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