Direct Democracy, Political Delegation, and Responsibility Substitution
AbstractCan direct democracy provisions improve welfare over pure representative democracy? This paper studies how such provisions affect politicians’ incentives and selection. While direct democracy allows citizens to correct politicians’ mistakes, it also reduces the incentives of elected representatives to search for good policies. This responsibility substitution reduces citizens’ ability to screen competent politicians, when elections are the only means to address political agency problems. A lower cost of direct democracy induces a negative spiral on politicians incentives, which we characterize by a disincentive multiplier. As a consequence, introducing initiatives or lowering their cost can reduce voters’ expected utility. Moreover, when elections perform well in selecting politicians and provide incentives, this indirect welfare reducing effect is stronger.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1515.
Date of creation: 09 Dec 2010
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Postal: Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science, Northwestern University, 580 Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-2014
Web page: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
- D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
- P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-01-30 (All new papers)
- NEP-CDM-2011-01-30 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-MIC-2011-01-30 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-POL-2011-01-30 (Positive Political Economics)
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- Tim Willems, 2013. "Political Accountability and Policy Experimentation: Why to Elect Left-Handed Politicians?," Economics Series Working Papers 647, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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