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How Do Policy-Makers Actually Solve Problems? Evidence From The French Local Public Sector

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  • BENOÎT LE MAUX

Abstract

This article examines how policy-makers solve problems within local representative democracies. It will be argued that politicians cannot undertake an exhaustive search of all possible policy choices; instead, they might use an incremental strategy such as the hill-climbing heuristic. These possibilities will be formalized using the median voter model as an analytical framework. The corresponding models will then be estimated over a set of French jurisdictions (the départements). The empirical results lend support to the hill-climbing model, given that: (1) for social welfare and secondary school expenditures, the influence of the past is significant; (2) a pure model of incrementalism, without any exogenous variables, is not appropriate for explaining the behavior of departmental council members; and (3) the impact of the past is more significant and stronger when expenditure levels are higher. Copyright 2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • Benoît Le Maux, 2009. "How Do Policy-Makers Actually Solve Problems? Evidence From The French Local Public Sector," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 201-231, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:21:y:2009:i:2:p:201-231
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