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Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare

  • Prat, Andrea

This paper investigates the role of campaign advertising and the opportunity of legal restrictions on it. An electoral race is modelled as a signalling game with three classes of players: many voters, two candidates, and one interest group. The group has non-verifiable insider information on the candidates' quality and, on the basis of this information, offers a contribution to each candidate in exchange for a favourable policy position. Candidates spend the contributions they receive on non-directly informative advertising. This paper shows that: (1) a separating equilibrium exists in which the group contributes to a candidate only if the insider information about that candidate is positive; (2) although voters are fully rational, a ban on campaign advertising can be welfare-improving; and (3) split contributions may arise in equilibrium (and, if they arise too often, they are detrimental to voters). Copyright 2002 by The Review of Economic Studies Limited

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 69 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 999-1017

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Handle: RePEc:bla:restud:v:69:y:2002:i:4:p:999-1017
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  1. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 265-86, April.
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  5. David Austen-Smith, 1987. "Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 123-139, January.
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  11. Baron, David P, 1989. "Service-Induced Campaign Contributions and the Electoral Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(1), pages 45-72, February.
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  16. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  17. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, June.
  18. Franklin M. Fisher & John J. McGowan, 1979. "Advertising and Welfare: Comment," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(2), pages 726-727, Autumn.
  19. Rebecca Morton & Charles Cameron, 1992. "Elections And The Theory Of Campaign Contributions: A Survey And Critical Analysis," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 79-108, 03.
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