IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aecrev/v97y2007i1p169-179.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task

Author

Listed:
  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

This paper investigates the normative criteria that guide the allocation of a policy task to an elected politician versus an independent bureaucrat. The bureaucrat is preferable for technical tasks for which ability is more important than effort, or if there is great uncertainty about whether the policymaker has the required abilities. The optimal allocation of redistributive tasks is ambiguous, and depends on how the bureaucrat can be instructed. But irrespective of the normative conclusion, the politician prefers not to delegate redistributive policies. (JEL D72, D73, D82)

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 169-179, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:1:p:169-179
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.1.169
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.97.1.169
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Christian Schultz, 2003. "Information, Polarization and Delegation in Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1104, CESifo.
    2. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
    3. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2003. "Bureaucrats or Politicians?," Working Papers 238, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    5. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482, Elsevier.
    6. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 2003. "Elected Versus Appointed Regulators: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1176-1206, September.
    7. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    8. 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.
    9. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217.
    10. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part I: Comparing Information Structures," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 183-198.
    11. Paul F. Whiteley (ed.), 1998. "Economic Policy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 996.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "Why do Politicians Delegate?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2079, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2003. "Bureaucrats or Politicians?," Working Papers 238, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 2008. "Bureaucrats or politicians? Part II: Multiple policy tasks," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 426-447, April.
    4. Frisell, Lars & Roszbach, Kasper & spagnolo, giancarlo, 2008. "Governing the Governors: A Clinical Study of Central Banks," Working Paper Series 221, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    5. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Eric Le Borgne, 2005. "The politics of central bank independence: a theory of pandering and learning in government," Staff Reports 205, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    6. Christian Schultz, 2003. "Information, Polarization and Delegation in Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1104, CESifo.
    7. Elliott Ash & W. Bentley MacLeod, . "Intrinsic Motivation in Public Service: Theory and Evidence from State Supreme Courts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(4).
    8. Martinez Leonardo, 2009. "Reputation, Career Concerns, and Job Assignments," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-29, May.
    9. 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.
    10. Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2011. "Politics and Monetary Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 941-960, August.
    11. Zudenkova, Galina, 2011. "Cronyism in Business, Public Sector and Politics," MPRA Paper 30231, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Martinez, Leonardo, 2009. "A theory of political cycles," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1166-1186, May.
    13. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Eric Le Borgne, 2010. "A Political Agency Theory of Central Bank Independence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(4), pages 647-677, June.
    14. Guido Merzoni & Federico Trombetta, 2016. "The cost of doing the right thing. A model of populism with rent-seeking politicians and the economic crisis," DISEIS - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo dis1602, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo (DISEIS).
    15. Blanes i Vidal, Jordi & Leaver, Clare, 2011. "Are tenured judges insulated from political pressure?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 570-586.
    16. Mario Gilli & Elena Manzoni, 2019. "Populism, the Backlash against Ruling Politicians and the Possible Malfunctioning of Representative Democracy," Working Papers 417, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2019.
    17. Lagunoff, Roger, 2006. "Credible communication in dynastic government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 59-86, January.
    18. Binswanger, Johannes & Prüfer, Jens, 2012. "Democracy, populism, and (un)bounded rationality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 358-372.
    19. Scott Gehlbach, 2003. "Taxability and Low-Productivity Traps," Working Papers w0029, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    20. James E. Alt & David D. Lassen, 2008. "Political And Judicial Checks On Corruption: Evidence From American State Governments," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 33-61, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:1:p:169-179. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.