Hindsight biased policy evaluation
AbstractHindsight bias is a cognitive deficiency that leads people to overestimate ex post how predictable an event was. In this paper we develop a political-agency model in which voters are hindsight-biased and politicians differ in ability, defined as information concerning the optimal policy. When public information is not too accurate, low-ability politicians sometimes gamble on suboptimal policies: in an attempt to mimic the high-ability type, who has superior private information, they go against public information and choose a policy whose expected payoff to society is negative. We model hindsight bias as a memory imperfection that prevents voters from accessing their ex ante information about the state of the world. We show that the bias can act as a discipline device that reduces policy gambles and can therefore be welfare enhancing. Although it is well known that restrictions on information acquisition can be beneficial for a principal, our contribution is to show that a psychological bias can have such an effect.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by LERNA, University of Toulouse in its series LERNA Working Papers with number 08.08.252.
Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- Schuett, Florian & Wagner, Alexander K., 2011. "Hindsight-biased evaluation of political decision makers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1621-1634.
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Economics; Underlying Principles
- D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
- D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-03-08 (All new papers)
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