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Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents? Learning vs. Re-Election Concerns

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  • Eric Borgne
  • Ben Lockwood

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Abstract

This paper studies a principal-agent model of the relationship between office-holder and an electorate, where everyone is initially uninformed about the office-holder’s ability. If office-holder effort and ability interact in the determination of performance in office, then an office-holder has an incentive to learn, i.e., raise effort so that performance becomes a more accurate signal of her ability. Elections reduce the learning effect, and the reduction in this effect may more than offset the positive “re-election concerns” effect of elections on effort, implying higher effort with appointment. When this occurs, appointment of officials may welfare-dominate elections. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Borgne & Ben Lockwood, 2006. "Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents? Learning vs. Re-Election Concerns," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 41-60, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:129:y:2006:i:1:p:41-60
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-006-0863-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martinez, Leonardo, 2009. "A theory of political cycles," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1166-1186, May.
    2. Martinez Leonardo, 2009. "Reputation, Career Concerns, and Job Assignments," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-29, May.
    3. Snyder Jr., James M. & Ting, Michael M., 2008. "Interest groups and the electoral control of politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 482-500, April.
    4. Alexander K. Koch & Albrecht Morgenstern & Philippe Raab, 2009. "Career concerns incentives: An experimental test," Post-Print hal-00693820, HAL.

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