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Public Opinion and the Dynamics of Reform

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  • Jain, Sanjay

    (University of Virginia)

  • Sharun Mukand

Abstract

Why do economic reforms that are proceeding successfully often run aground? A number of observers have expressed surprise that public opinion regarding the continuation of a reform process often runs directly counter to the performance of the reform itself. This is especially surprising if one thinks of voters as forward-looking. If anything, a reform that is proceeding successfully might be expected to see burgeoning political support, as voters learn something about the underlying reform, or about the incumbent government's ability to implement it smoothly. In this paper we show that there might arise circumstances where the initial success of reform might result in it running into a political impasse. We suggest that the key might lie in the effect that the reform process has on the balance of political power. In particular, if initially successful reforms change the balance of political power in such a way as to make future redistribution less likely, then public opinion may turn against reform. Thus, in some sense, an initially successful reform may well end up sowing the seeds of its own destruction.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Royal Economic Society in its series Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 with number 114.

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Date of creation: 04 Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ecj:ac2003:114

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Keywords: political economy; economic reform; public opinion; redistribution; compensation;

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  1. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
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  9. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," NBER Working Papers 8831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2003. "Redistributive Promises and the Adoption of Economic Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 256-264, March.
  12. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1999. "Inefficient Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 2122, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
  14. Shang-Jin Wei, 1997. "Gradualism versus Big Bang: Speed and Sustainability of Reforms," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(4), pages 1234-47, November.
  15. Cesar Martinelli & Mariano Tommasi, 1993. "Sequencing of Economic Reforms in the Presence of Political Constraints," UCLA Economics Working Papers 701, UCLA Department of Economics.
  16. Mathias Dewatripont & Gérard Roland, 1995. "The design of reform packages under uncertainty," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9607, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  17. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2003. "Redistributive Promises and the Adoption of Economic Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 256-264, March.
  2. Francesco Passarelli, 2011. "Risky Political Changes: Rational Choice vs Prospect Theory," ISLA Working Papers 39, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
  3. Veldkamp, Laura, 2009. "Learning about reform: Time-varying support for structural adjustment," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 192-206, March.

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