IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/pubeco/v120y2014icp84-96.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Policy experimentation, political competition, and heterogeneous beliefs

Author

Listed:
  • Millner, Antony
  • Ollivier, Hélène
  • Simon, Leo

Abstract

We consider a two period model in which an incumbent political party chooses the level of a current policy variable unilaterally, but faces competition from a political opponent in the future. Both parties care about voters' payoffs, but they have different beliefs about how policy choices will map into future economic outcomes. We show that when the incumbent party can endogenously influence whether learning occurs through its policy choices (policy experimentation), future political competition gives it a new incentive to distort its policies — it manipulates them so as to reduce uncertainty and disagreement in the future, thus avoiding facing competitive elections with an opponent very different from itself. The model thus demonstrates that all incumbents can find it optimal to ‘over experiment’, relative to a counterfactual in which they are sure to be in power in both periods. We thus identify an incentive for strategic policy manipulation that does not depend on parties having conflicting objectives, but rather stems from their differing beliefs about the consequences of their actions.

Suggested Citation

  • Millner, Antony & Ollivier, Hélène & Simon, Leo, 2014. "Policy experimentation, political competition, and heterogeneous beliefs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 84-96.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:120:y:2014:i:c:p:84-96
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.08.008
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272714001935
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2008. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation, and Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 201-236, March.
    2. Bohn, Frank, 2007. "Polarisation, uncertainty and public investment failure," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 1077-1087, December.
    3. Sanford J. Grossman & Richard E. Kihlstrom & Leonard J. Mirman, 1977. "A Bayesian Approach to the Production of Information and Learning By Doing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 533-547.
    4. Marina Azzimonti, 2011. "Barriers to Investment in Polarized Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2182-2204, August.
    5. Bertocchi, Graziella & Spagat, Michael, 1993. "Learning, experimentation, and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 169-183, August.
    6. Jonathan Leape, 2006. "The London Congestion Charge," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 157-176, Fall.
    7. Gollier, Christian & Jullien, Bruno & Treich, Nicolas, 2000. "Scientific progress and irreversibility: an economic interpretation of the 'Precautionary Principle'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 229-253, February.
    8. Kenneth J. Arrow & Anthony C. Fisher, 1974. "Environmental Preservation, Uncertainty, and Irreversibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(2), pages 312-319.
    9. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A., 2001. "Inefficient Redistribution," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 95(03), pages 649-661, September.
    10. Winslott-Hiselius, Lena & Brundell-Freij, Karin & Vagland, Asa & Byström, Camilla, 2009. "The development of public attitudes towards the Stockholm congestion trial," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 269-282, March.
    11. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "The size and scope of government:: Comparative politics with rational politicians," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 699-735, April.
    12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:67:y:1973:i:02:p:490-498_14 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria & Spolaore, Enrico, 1994. "How cynical can an incumbent be? Strategic policy in a model of government spending," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 121-140, September.
    14. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Philipp Harms & Matthew O. Jackson, 2013. "Updating Beliefs with Ambiguous Evidence: Implications for Polarization," NBER Working Papers 19114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-156, March.
    16. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    17. Eric Van den Steen, 2004. "Rational Overoptimism (and Other Biases)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1141-1151, September.
    18. Bruno Strulovici, 2010. "Learning While Voting: Determinants of Collective Experimentation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 933-971, May.
    19. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 37-49, March.
    20. Godfrey Keller & Sven Rady, 1999. "Optimal Experimentation in a Changing Environment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 475-507.
    21. repec:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:01:p:142-157_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Nicola Persico & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2001. "The Provision of Public Goods under Alternative Electoral Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 225-239, March.
    23. Torsten Persson & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1989. "Why a Stubborn Conservative would Run a Deficit: Policy with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(2), pages 325-345.
    24. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    25. Edward L. Glaeser & Cass R. Sunstein, 2013. "Why Does Balanced News Produce Unbalanced Views?," NBER Working Papers 18975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. Ulph, Alistair & Ulph, David, 1997. "Global Warming, Irreversibility and Learning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(442), pages 636-650, May.
    27. Epstein, Larry G, 1980. "Decision Making and the Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(2), pages 269-283, June.
    28. Henry, Claude, 1974. "Investment Decisions Under Uncertainty: The "Irreversibility Effect."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 1006-1012, December.
    29. Aidt, Toke S. & Dutta, Jayasri, 2007. "Policy myopia and economic growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 734-753, September.
    30. Kelly, David L. & Kolstad, Charles D. & Mitchell, Glenn T., 2005. "Adjustment costs from environmental change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 468-495, November.
    31. Morris, Stephen, 1995. "The Common Prior Assumption in Economic Theory," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 227-253, October.
    32. Kelly, David L. & Kolstad, Charles D., 1999. "Bayesian learning, growth, and pollution," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 491-518, February.
    33. Prescott, Edward C, 1972. "The Multi-Period Control Problem Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(6), pages 1043-1058, November.
    34. Eric Van den Steen, 2010. "Disagreement and the Allocation of Control," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(2), pages 385-426.
    35. Adams Scott & Cotti Chad D., 2007. "The Effect of Smoking Bans on Bars and Restaurants: An Analysis of Changes in Employment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-34, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Dumas, Marion & Rising, James & Urpelainen, Johannes, 2016. "Political competition and renewable energy transitions over long time horizons: A dynamic approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 175-184.
    2. Tatiana Kiseleva, 2016. "Heterogeneous Beliefs and Climate Catastrophes," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 65(3), pages 599-622, November.
    3. Antony Millner & Hélène Ollivier, 2016. "Beliefs, Politics, and Environmental Policy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(2), pages 226-244.
    4. Alonso, Ricardo & Câmara, Odilon, 2016. "Political disagreement and information in elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 390-412.
    5. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:4:p:685-711 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Beliefs; Learning; Political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:120:y:2014:i:c:p:84-96. 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: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.