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Misconceptions and Political Outcomes

  • David Romer

    (University of California, Berkeley)

A large literature shows that strategic interactions among actors with conflicting objectives can cause the political process to produce outcomes that lower welfare. This paper investigates an alternative explanation of such outcomes: if individuals" errors in assessing the likely effects of proposed policies are correlated, democratic decisionmaking can produce welfare--reducing outcomes even in the absence of conflicting objectives. Under plausible assumptions, choosing candidates from among the best informed individuals does not remedy the problems created by such errors, but subsidising information and exposing representatives to information after their election do. Concentration of power has ambiguous effects. Copyright Royal Economic Society 2003.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 113 (2003)
Issue (Month): 484 (January)
Pages: 1-20

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:113:y:2003:i:484:p:1-20
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  1. Guido Tabellini & Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," UCLA Economics Working Papers 539, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  7. Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," NBER Working Papers 2428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . ""An Economic Model of Representative Democracy''," CARESS Working Papres 95-02, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  9. Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1991. "Pervasive Shortages Under Socialism," NBER Working Papers 3791, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Rubenstein, A., 1991. "On Price Recognition and Computational Complexity in a Monopolistic Model," Papers 35-91, Tel Aviv.
  11. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1997. "Institutions for Monetary Stability," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 307-334 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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