Is polarization bad?
The adverse effects of political and social polarization on government policies are empirically well documented, yet some democracies seem to cope well or even benefit from diversity. In this paper we develop a theoretical model to show how elections in polarized societies contribute to improve quality of government. We consider both polarization among citizens and political actors (political polarization), where the second is endogenously determined by parties competing to win the support of the majority of voters. We find that more heterogeneous societies are more likely to be politically polarized, but that the divergence of positions in the political arena helps the electorate control government corruption by raising electoral stakes. Our results, which are consistent with the findings of a substantial empirical literature, suggest that, when funneled into political competition, polarization may help improving quality of government and policies.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Francesco Giovannoni & Daniel J. Seidmann, 2008.
"Corruption and Power in Democracies,"
The Centre for Market and Public Organisation
08/192, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
- José G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2005. "Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 796-816, June.
- Campos, Nauro F & Kuzeyev, Vitaliy S., 2007.
"On the Dynamics of Ethnic Fractionalization,"
IZA Discussion Papers
2822, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Banks, Jeffrey S. & Sundaram, Rangarajan K., 1998. "Optimal Retention in Agency Problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 293-323, October.
- Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005.
"Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
- Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2003. "Competition and incentives with motivated agents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2202, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Tim Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and incentives with motivated agents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 928, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Besley, Timothy J. & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2004. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," CEPR Discussion Papers 4641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Valentino Larcinese & James M. Snyder (Jr.) & Cecilia Testa, 2006.
"Testing models of distributive politics using exit polls to measure voter preferences and partisanship,"
LSE Research Online Documents on Economics
3605, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Larcinese, Valentino & Snyder, James M. & Testa, Cecilia, 2013. "Testing Models of Distributive Politics using Exit Polls to Measure Voters’ Preferences and Partisanship," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 845-875, October.
- Valentino Larcinese & James M. Snyder, Jr. & Cecilia Testa, 2006. "Testing Models Of Distributive Politicsusing Exit Polls To Measure Voterpreferences And Partisanship," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 19, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
- Valentino Larcinese & James M. Snyder & Cecilia Testa, 2009. "Testing Models of Distributive Politics using Exit Polls to Measure Voters Preferences and Partisanship," Development Working Papers 278, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
- David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859.
- Alberto Alesina & Stephen E. Spear, 1987.
"An Overlapping Generations Model of Electoral Competition,"
NBER Working Papers
2354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alesina, Alberto & Spear, Stephen E., 1988. "An overlapping generations model of electoral competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 359-379, December.
- Alesina, Alberto & Spear, Stephen, 1988. "An Overlapping Generations Model of Electoral Competition," Scholarly Articles 4553015, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Roger B. Myerson, 2006. "Bipolar Multicandidate Elections with Corruption," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 727-742, December.
- Poole, Keith T. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "Are legislators ideologues or the agents of constituents?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 707-717, April.
- Harrington, Joseph Jr., 1992. "The role of party reputation in the formation of policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 107-121, October.
- José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2004. "Ethnic polarization, potential conflict and civil wars," Economics Working Papers 770, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2005.
- Testa, Cecilia, 2010. "Bicameralism and corruption," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 181-198, February.
- T. Groseclose, 2007. "‘One and a Half Dimensional’ Preferences and Majority Rule," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 28(2), pages 321-335, February.
- John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
- Budge, Ian, 1994. "A New Spatial Theory of Party Competition: Uncertainty, Ideology and Policy Equilibria Viewed Comparatively and Temporally," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(04), pages 443-467, October.
- Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 265-286.
- Elisabeth R. Gerber & Jeffrey B. Lewis, 2004. "Beyond the Median: Voter Preferences, District Heterogeneity, and Political Representation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1364-1383, December.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:6:p:1104-1118. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.