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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. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
  2. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
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  8. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 37-49, March.
  9. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
  10. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1993. "On Price Recognition and Computational Complexity in a Monopolistic Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 473-84, June.
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