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Policy Gambles

  • Sumon Majumdar
  • Sharun W. Mukand

This paper develops a theory of policy making, that examines the incentives for experimentation with new policies and the scrappage of adopted policies. We demonstrate that a government which cares about its reputation out of electoral concerns, takes socially ine?cient policy gambles that may result in two kinds of ine?ciencies ? Þrst, a government may ine?ciently experiment by undertaking a new policy initiative that it (and the voter) knows is unlikely to succeed, and second, the government may prefer to not learn from experience and instead persist with an adopted policy despite publicly observable evidence of its failure. Furthermore, these ine?ciencies are systematically related to the electoral cycle. Early on in its term a government is likely to enact policies that are either too conservative or too radical, while later on in its term the government is likely to show ine?cient policy persistence.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 94 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1207-1222

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:4:p:1207-1222
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828042002624
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  1. Stephen Coate & Stephen Morris, . "Policy Persistence," Penn CARESS Working Papers 8a66677895e9fcb3f6d813c0c, Penn Economics Department.
  2. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
  3. Cukierman, Alex & Tommasi, Mariano, 1998. "When Does It Take a Nixon to Go to China?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 180-97, March.
  4. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746, May.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Allan Drazen, 1989. "Why are Stabilizations Delayed?," NBER Working Papers 3053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
  7. Mariano Tommasi & Andres Velasco, 1995. "Where Are We in the Political Economy of Reform?," Working Papers 11, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Apr 1996.
  8. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
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