Shirking and sorting in a political market with finite-lived politicians
This paper analyzes principal-agent slack in the context of a political market composed of voters, challengers, and incumbents. The introduction of a last period (via finite-livedness) in combination with voters' imperfect information about politicians' preferences causes time-varying shirking behavior on the part of politicians. Political markets eventually sort out those politicians with significantly deviant policy preferences, potentially providing a solution to the last period problem and enabling politicians to make credible commitments. In the extreme, sorting can insure that it is not worthwhile for potential shirkers to run for office. A systematic relationship between political shirking and number of terms in office may exist, and depends on how quickly sorting takes place. We show that evidence of little if any shirking is quite consistent with politicians having diverse and strongly held policy preferences. In addition, if sorting is a significant feature of political markets, cross-sectional studies will tend to oversample little- and non-shirking politicians compared to longitudinal studies. Reinterpretations of existing empirical work are also discussed. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989
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