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The Voter's Blunt Tool

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  • Bowen, T. Renee

    (Stanford University)

  • Mo, Cecilia Hyunjung

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

When do voters win? Democracies have appealing properties, but failures of democracies to produce policies that benefit the voter abound. What conditions determine the success of the unorganized voter who only possess a blunt tool-- the vote-- versus an organized special interest group or firm? In this paper we derive with minimal assumptions conditions under which a democracy will produce policies that favor the voter. The model predictions are consistent with Besley, Persson and Sturm (2010), who show that increasing political competition leads to policies that benefit the voter. In addition, we show that increasing office holding benefits, decreasing potential rents to firms and increasing the salience of policy also leads to policies that benefit the voter. We find a positive interaction between the effect of political competition and office holding benefits. We support the model with data from the United States and find empirical evidence that increasing governors' salary decreased taxes paid by individuals through income tax relative to corporate tax, and increasing Governor salary increased minimum wages.

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Graduate School of Business in its series Research Papers with number 2115.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2115

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  1. Francesco Caselli & Massimo Morelli, 2001. "Bad Politicians," NBER Working Papers 8532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rafael Di Tella & Raymond Fisman, 2002. "Are Politicians Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," NBER Working Papers 9165, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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