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The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy

  • Mariano Tommasi

    ()

The effects of public policies on social and economic outcomes depend on some fundamental state capacities, such as the ability to commit to a policy course; the ability to adjust policies when circumstances change; and the ability to coordinate, enforce, and implement policies. In a democratic polity, such capabilities are built on some degree of consensus and intertemporal cooperation among key political actors; better policies emerge if participants in the policymaking process can cooperate with one another to uphold agreements and sustain them over time. This paper explores the institutional determinants of such capabilities, with a focus on the political system. It argues that effective public policies are facilitated by institutionalized and programmatic political parties, legislators with sound policymaking capabilities, independent judiciaries, and strong bureaucracies. Such institutional blessings" develop slowly over time, and the incentives of politicians and government officials, as well as their interaction with other societal actors, are crucial for their development. The paper concludes by warning economists and other policy specialists that institutions and processes might be more important than policies. Advocates and advisors have to think twice before forcing a favorite policy onto a polity at the expense of violating principles such as a reasonable degree of societal consensus, congressional debate, or judicial independence."

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Article provided by LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION in its journal JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA.

Volume (Year): (2006)
Issue (Month): ()
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Handle: RePEc:col:000425:008654
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  1. Calvo, Guillermo A. & Drazen, Allan, 1998. "Uncertain Duration Of Reform," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(04), pages 443-455, December.
  2. 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.
  3. Mariano Tommasi & Pablo T. Spiller, 2000. "The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy: A Transactions Approach with Application to Argentina," Working Papers 29, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised May 2000.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rauch, James E. & Evans, Peter B., 2000. "Bureaucratic structure and bureaucratic performance in less developed countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 49-71, January.
  6. Mariano Tommasi & Matias Iaryczower & Pablo T. Spiller, 2002. "Judicial Decision Making in Unstable Environments, Argentina 1935-1998," Working Papers 30, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Oct 2002.
  7. Avinash Dixit & Gene M. Grossman & Faruk Gul, 2000. "The Dynamics of Political Compromise," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 531-568, June.
  8. Harberger, Arnold C, 1993. "The Search for Relevance in Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 1-16, May.
  9. Eduardo Lora & Ugo Panizza, 2002. "Structural Reforms in Latin America under Scrutiny," Research Department Publications 4303, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  10. Mariano Tommasi & Pablo T. Spiller & Ernesto Stein, 2003. "Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes, and Policy Outcomes. An Intertemporal Transactions Framework," Working Papers 59, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jul 2003.
  11. Avinash Dixit, 2003. "Some Lessons from Transaction-Cost Politics for Less-Developed Countries," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 107-133, 07.
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