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Do politicians’ preferences correspond to those of the voters? An investigation of political representation

  • Hanna Ågren

    ()

  • Matz Dahlberg
  • Eva Mörk

This paper investigates political representation by exploring the relationship between citizens' preferences and the preferences of their elected representatives. Using Swedish survey data, the empirical analysis shows that voters and politicians have significantly different preferences for local welfare services, implying that voters do not elect representatives with the same preferences as their own. The results show that when comparing a politician of a certain age, gender, educational level and marital status, with a voter with identical characteristics, the politician still has preferences for a significantly higher level of spending on the locally provided services. Hence, our results indicate that the representation of different socio-economic groups does not necessarily lead to a larger degree of representation of these groups' agendas. Moreover, we find the observed difference to be largest for the least salient expenditure item. We do, however, not find any evidence for differences in preferences between the two groups being associated with a decline in trust for politicians among voters. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-006-9077-1
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 130 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 137-162

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:130:y:2007:i:1:p:137-162
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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  1. 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, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859, August.
  2. Osborne, Martin J & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96, February.
  3. Åsa Ahlin & Eva Johansson, 2001. "Individual Demand for Local Public Schooling: Evidence from Swedish Survey Data," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 331-351, August.
  4. Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senate Ideology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 425-41, June.
  5. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Rubinfeld, Daniel L & Shapiro, Perry, 1982. "Micro-Based Estimates of Demand Functions for Local School Expenditures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1183-1205, September.
  6. Esther Duflo & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, 2004. "Women as policy makers: Evidence from a randomized policy experiment in india," Framed Field Experiments 00224, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Hanna Ågren & Matz Dahlberg & Eva Mörk, 2007. "Do politicians’ preferences correspond to those of the voters? An investigation of political representation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 137-162, January.
  8. Tim Besley, 2002. "Political institutions and policy choices: evidence from the United States," IFS Working Papers W02/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114, February.
  10. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  11. Pettersson-Lidbom , Per, 2003. "Do Parties Matter for Fiscal Policy Choices? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Research Papers in Economics 2003:15, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  12. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
  13. Svaleryd, Helena, 2002. "Femal Representation - Is it Important for Policy Decisions?," Research Papers in Economics 2002:7, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  14. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  15. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
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