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Incumbent Behavior: Vote-Seeking, Tax-Setting, and Yardstick Competition

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  • Besley, Timothy
  • Case, Anne

Abstract

This paper develops a model of the political economy of tax-setting in a multijurisdictional world where voters' choices and incumbent behavior are determined simultaneously. Voters are assumed to make comparisons between jurisdictions to overcome political agency problems. This forces incumbents into a (yardstick) competition in which they care about what other incumbents are doing. The authors provide a theoretical framework and empirical evidence using U.S. state data from 1960 to 1988. The results are encouraging to the view that vote-seeking and tax-setting are tied together through the nexus of yardstick competition. Copyright 1995 by American Economic Association.

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  • Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Incumbent Behavior: Vote-Seeking, Tax-Setting, and Yardstick Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 25-45, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:85:y:1995:i:1:p:25-45
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