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Interest Groups, Influence And Welfare

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  • Richard Ball

Abstract

This paper examines the social costs and benefits of special interest group political influence activities. It is commonly recognized that, to the extent that such activities induce legislators to choose policies that favor the interest group at the expense of society at large, they can reduce welfare. It may also be the case, however, that lobbying can convey information held by interest groups to policy-makers. When costless announcements would not be credible, interest groups can signal their private information through costly influence activities. To the extent that this information enables governments to choose better policies, lobbying can enhance welfare. A simple game between a special interest group and a policy-maker that captures this tradeoff between the distortionary costs and the informational benefits of political influence activities is developed. Welfare properties of the equilibria are analyzed, and conditions are derived under which social welfare is greater when lobbying occurs than it would be if lobbying were prohibited. In conclusion, the phenomenon analyzed in this paper is related to Bhagwati's taxonomy of DUP activities. Copyright 1995 Blackwell Publishers Ltd..

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Ball, 1995. "Interest Groups, Influence And Welfare," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(2), pages 119-146, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:7:y:1995:i:2:p:119-146
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-1093, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
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    4. Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "Capital Taxation and Accumulation in a Life Cycle Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 533-544, September.
    5. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1982. "The Theory of Local Public Goods Twenty-Five Years After Tiebout: A Perspective," NBER Working Papers 0954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Efraim Sadka, 1976. "On Income Distribution, Incentive Effects and Optimal Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 261-267.
    7. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1988. "Social Contracts as Assets: A Possible Solution to the Time-Consistency Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 662-677, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mohtadi, Hamid & Roe, Terry, 1998. "Growth, lobbying and public goods," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 453-473, August.
    2. DAHM, Matthias & PORTEIRO, Nicolas, 2003. "The political economy of interest groups: pressure and information," CORE Discussion Papers 2003057, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    3. Pim Heijnen, 2013. "Informative advertising by an environmental group," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 108(3), pages 249-272, April.
    4. repec:kap:qmktec:v:15:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11129-016-9177-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Martin Gregor, 2014. "Receiver's access fee for a single sender," Working Papers IES 2014/17, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised May 2014.
    6. Martin Gregor, 2014. "Access fees for competing lobbies," Working Papers IES 2014/22, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Jul 2014.
    7. Gregor Martin, 2015. "To Invite or Not to Invite a Lobby, That Is the Question," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 15(2), pages 143-166, July.
    8. Cotton, Christopher, 2009. "Should we tax or cap political contributions? A lobbying model with policy favors and access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 831-842.
    9. Wolton, Stephane, 2016. "Lobbying, Inside and Out: How Special Interest Groups Influence Policy Choices," MPRA Paper 68637, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey S., 2002. "Costly signaling and cheap talk in models of political influence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 263-280, June.
    11. Lagerlof, Johan, 1997. "Lobbying, information, and private and social welfare," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 615-637, September.

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