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Power Fluctuations and Political Economy

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  • Daron Acemoglu

    (MIT and CIFAR)

  • Michael Golosov

    (Yale University and NES)

  • Aleh Tsyvinski

    (Yale University and NES)

Abstract

We study the constrained Pareto efficient allocations in a dynamic production economy in which the group that holds political power decides the allocation of resources. We show that Pareto efficient allocations take a quasi-Markovian structure and can be represented recursively as a function of the identity of the group in power and updated Pareto weights. For high discount factors, the economy converges to a first-best allocation in which labor supply decisions are not distorted and the levels of labor supply and consumption are constant over time (though there may be transfers from one group to another). For low discount factors, the economy converges to an invariant stochastic distribution in which distortions do not disappear and labor supply and consumption levels fluctuate over time. The labor supply of groups that are not in power are taxed in order to reduce the deviation payoff of the party in power and thus relax the political economy/sustainability constraints. We also show that the set of sustainable first-best allocations is larger when there is less persistence in the identity of the party in power. This result contradicts a common conjecture that there will be fewer distortions when the political system creates a “stable ruling group”. In contrast, political economy distortions are less important when there are frequent changes in power (because this encourages compromise between social groups). Despite this result, it remains true that distortions decrease along sample paths where a particular group remains in power for a longer span of time.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) in its series EIEF Working Papers Series with number 0911.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision: Sep 2009
Handle: RePEc:eie:wpaper:0911

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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2009. "Political Economy of Ramsey Taxation," NBER Working Papers 15302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 2011. "Recursive Contracts," CEP Discussion Papers dp1055, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Saint-Paul, Gilles & Ticchi, Davide & Vindigni, Andrea, 2012. "A Theory of Political Entrenchment," TSE Working Papers 12-284, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  3. T. Renee Bowen & Ying Chen & Hülya Eraslan, 2012. "Mandatory Versus Discretionary Spending: the Status Quo Effect," Economics Working Paper Archive 603, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  4. Corbae, Dean & Marimon, Ramon, 2011. "Introduction to Incompleteness and Uncertainty in Economics," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(3), pages 775-784, May.
  5. Ruediger Bachmann & Jinhui Bai, 2010. "Government Purchases Over the Business Cycle: the Role of Economic and Political Inequality," NBER Working Papers 16247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Leonid Polishchuk & Georgiy Syunyaev, 2013. "Ruling elites' rotation and asset ownership: Implications for property rights," HSE Working papers WP BRP 43/EC/2013, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  7. Chatterjee, Satyajit & Eyigungor, Burcu, 2014. "Continuous Markov equilibria with quasi-geometric discounting," Working Papers 14-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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