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To elect or to appoint? Bias, information, and responsiveness of bureaucrats and politicians

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  • Iaryczower, Matias
  • Lewis, Garrett
  • Shum, Matthew

Abstract

In this paper, we address empirically the trade-offs involved in choosing between bureaucrats and politicians. In order to do this, we map institutions of selection and retention of public officials to the type of public officials they induce. We do this by specifying a collective decision-making model, and exploiting its equilibrium information to obtain estimates of the unobservable types. We focus on criminal decisions across US states' Supreme Courts. We find that justices that are shielded from voters' influence (“bureaucrats”) on average (i) have better information, (ii) are more likely to change their preconceived opinions about a case, and (iii) are more effective (make less mistakes) than their elected counterparts (“politicians”). We evaluate how performance would change if the courts replaced majority rule with unanimity rule.

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  • Iaryczower, Matias & Lewis, Garrett & Shum, Matthew, 2013. "To elect or to appoint? Bias, information, and responsiveness of bureaucrats and politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 230-244.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:97:y:2013:i:c:p:230-244
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2012.08.007
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    3. Aquilante, Tommaso, 2018. "Undeflected pressure? The protectionist effect of political partisanship on US antidumping policy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 455-470.
    4. Elliott Ash & W. Bentley MacLeod, . "Intrinsic Motivation in Public Service: Theory and Evidence from State Supreme Courts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(4).
    5. Eijffinger, Sylvester & Mahieu, Ronald & Raes, Louis, 2018. "Inferring hawks and doves from voting records," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 107-120.
    6. Maria Flavia Ambrosanio & Paolo Balduzzi & Massimo Bordignon, 2015. "Who should review public spending?," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2015(1), pages 109-127.
    7. Lockwood, Ben, 2017. "Confirmation Bias and Electoral Accountability," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 11(4), pages 471-501, February.
    8. Gregory DeAngelo & Bryan C. McCannon, 2019. "Political competition in judge and prosecutor elections," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 167-193, October.
    9. Facchini, Giovanni & Knight, Brian & Testa, Cecilia, 2020. "The Franchise, Policing, and Race: Evidence from Arrests Data and the Voting Rights Act," CEPR Discussion Papers 14946, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Drazen, Allan & Ozbay, Erkut Y., 2019. "Does “being chosen to lead” induce non-selfish behavior? Experimental evidence on reciprocity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 13-21.
    11. Zohal Hessami, 2014. "Appointed Versus Elected Mayors and Incentives to Pork-Barrel: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Germany," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2014-23, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    12. Blanes i Vidal, Jordi & Leaver, Clare, 2011. "Are tenured judges insulated from political pressure?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 570-586.
    13. Chen, Shawn Xiaoguang & Liu, Yong & Xu, Xianxiang, 2020. "Dynamics of Local Cadre Appointment in China11We are grateful to the editor Cheryl Long, and three referees for their valuable comments. Shawn Xiaoguang Chen thanks the support of Beijing Municipal Ed," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    14. Elliott Ash & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2016. "Reducing Partisanship in Judicial Elections Can Improve Judge Quality: Evidence from U.S. State Supreme Courts," NBER Working Papers 22071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Emily M. Farris & Mirya R. Holman, 2015. "Public Officials and a “Private” Matter: Attitudes and Policies in the County Sheriff Office Regarding Violence Against Women," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1117-1135, December.
    16. Drazen, Allan & Ozbay, Erkut, 2016. "Does 'Being Chosen' to Lead Induce Non-Selfish Behavior? Experimental Evidence on Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 11338, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Otto (O.H.) Swank & Bauke (B.) Visser, 2018. "Committees as Active Audiences: Reputation Concerns and Information Acquisition," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-068/VII, Tinbergen Institute, revised 01 May 2019.
    18. Leverty, J. Tyler & Grace, Martin F., 2018. "Do elections delay regulatory action?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(2), pages 409-427.
    19. Aquilante, Tommaso, 2015. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Political Parties and Antidumping in the US," MPRA Paper 70359, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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