IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Hindsight-biased evaluation of political decision makers

  • Schuett, Florian
  • Wagner, Alexander K.

Hindsight bias is a cognitive deficiency that leads people to overestimate ex post how predictable an event was. In this paper we develop a political-agency model in which voters are hindsight-biased and politicians differ in ability, defined as information concerning the optimal policy. When public information is not too accurate, low-ability politicians sometimes gamble on suboptimal policies: in an attempt to mimic the high-ability type, who has superior private information, they go against public information and choose a policy whose expected payoff to society is negative. We model hindsight bias as a memory imperfection that prevents voters from accessing their ex ante information about the state of the world. We show that the bias can act as a discipline device that reduces policy gambles and can therefore be welfare enhancing. Although it is well known that restrictions on information acquisition can be beneficial for a principal, our contribution is to show that a psychological bias can have such an effect.

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.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272711000521
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 under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 11 ()
Pages: 1621-1634

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:11:p:1621-1634
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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.:

as in new window
  1. Michael Smart & Daniel M. Sturm, 2006. "Term Limits and Electoral Accountability," CEP Discussion Papers dp0770, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Andrea Prat, 2005. "The Wrong Kind of Transparency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 862-877, June.
  3. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model Of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774, August.
  4. Gilat Levy, 2004. "Anti-herding and strategic consultation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 541, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Hess, Gregory D & Orphanides, Athanasios, 1995. "War Politics: An Economic, Rational-Voter Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 828-46, September.
  6. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
  7. Cremer, Jacques, 1995. "Arm's Length Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 275-95, May.
  8. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
  9. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
  10. Frey, Bruno S & Eichenberger, Reiner, 1991. " Anomalies in Political Economy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 68(1-3), pages 71-89, January.
  11. Olivier Compte & Andrew Postlewaite, 2004. "Confidence-Enhanced Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1536-1557, December.
  12. Christensen-Szalanski, Jay J. J. & Willham, Cynthia Fobian, 1991. "The hindsight bias: A meta-analysis," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 147-168, February.
  13. Sumon Majumdar & Sharun W. Mukand, 2004. "Policy Gambles," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0407, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  14. Camerer, Colin & Loewenstein, George & Weber, Martin, 1989. "The Curse of Knowledge in Economic Settings: An Experimental Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1232-54, October.
  15. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  16. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence And Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915, August.
  17. Botond Köszegi, 2006. "Ego Utility, Overconfidence, and Task Choice," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(4), pages 673-707, 06.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:11:p:1621-1634. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.