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Politicians' Motivation, Role of Elections, and Policy Choices

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  • Phongthorn Wrasai

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    (Faculty of Economics, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)

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    Abstract

    We develop a simple two period model to study the importance of motivational differences among politicians in describing the role of elections and explaining policy choices. In our model, politicians differ in their motives of running public office. Good politicians care about policies while bad politicians care about rent extraction. Voters want to control politician misbehavior and to select good politicians. We show that reelection concerns may compel a good politician not to implement a socially desirable policy if he sufficiently cares about the future. Second, reelection concerns may induce a bad politician not to undertake a socially undesirable policy. The reason for this is fear of being ruled by another bad politician if unseated. This finding exhibits the disciplining function of elections. A striking result in our paper is that bad politicians may act more in tune with the public interest relative to the good politicians.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 05-050/1.

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    Date of creation: 26 May 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20050050

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    Keywords: Politicians' Motivation; Role of Elections; Policy Choices;

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    1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," NBER Working Papers 2428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Smart, Michael & Sturm, Daniel M., 2013. "Term limits and electoral accountability," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 93-102.
    3. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, January.
    4. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
    5. Sundadam, R.K. & Banks, J., 1991. "Adverse Selection and Moral hazard in a Repeated Elections Models," RCER Working Papers 283, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    6. Berganza, Juan Carlos, 2000. " Two Roles for Elections: Disciplining the Incumbent and Selecting a Competent Candidate," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(1-2), pages 165-93, October.
    7. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-98, August.
    8. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
    9. le Borgne, E. & Lockwood, B., 2000. "Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 580, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    10. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    11. Suurmond, Guido & Swank, Otto H. & Visser, Bauke, 2004. "On the bad reputation of reputational concerns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2817-2838, December.
    12. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Sundaram, Rangarajan K., 1998. "Optimal Retention in Agency Problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 293-323, October.
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