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In Search of Rational Government: What Political Preference Function Studies Measure and Assume


  • David S. Bullock


Political preference function (PPF) studies assume that policy-making can be described by a mathematical problem in which a rational government maximizes a function of interest groups' welfares. The purpose of my paper is to explain in-depth ramifications of PPF study assumptions and methodology. PPF studies that attempt to measure interest group political power do so by measuring marginal rates of transformation along a Pareto frontier. One can estimate political power with a PPF only if observed policies are Pareto-efficient, which may depend on the assumed number of interest groups and policy instruments. Marginal rates of transformation need not reveal anything meaningful about interest group political power, and may incorrectly measure the direction of transfers.

Suggested Citation

  • David S. Bullock, 1994. "In Search of Rational Government: What Political Preference Function Studies Measure and Assume," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 76(3), pages 347-361.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:76:y:1994:i:3:p:347-361.

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    Cited by:

    1. Mittenzwei, Klaus & Bullock, David S. & Salhofer, Klaus, 2012. "Towards a theory of policy timing," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 56(4), pages 1-14.
    2. Aparajita Goyal & John Nash, 2017. "Reaping Richer Returns
      [Obtenir de meilleurs résultats]
      ," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 25996, June.
    3. Coggins, Jay S., 1994. "Implementing Agricultural Policy Virtually: The Case of Set-Aside," Staff Papers 200579, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    4. Wenshou Yan, 2016. "Geographic Politics, Loss Aversion, and Trade Policy: The Case of Cotton and China," School of Economics Working Papers 2016-15, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    5. Jonathan Brooks, 1996. "Agricultural Policies In Oecd Countries: What Can We Learn From Political Economy Models?," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1‐4), pages 366-389, January.
    6. David S. Bullock & Klaus Salhofer & Jukka Kola, 1999. "The Normative Analysis of Agricultural Policy: A General Framework and Review," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 512-535, September.
    7. Wirl, Franz, 2011. "Taxing incumbent monopoly to foster entry," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 388-398, May.
    8. Lee, Dae-Seob & Kennedy, P. Lynn, 2002. "A Game Theoretic Analysis Of U.S. Rice Export Policy: The Case Of Japan And Korea," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19686, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    9. Trofimov, Ivan D., 2017. "Political economy of trade protection and liberalization: in search of agency-based and holistic framework of policy change," MPRA Paper 79504, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Barrett, Christopher B., 1999. "The microeconomics of the developmental paradox: on the political economy of food price policy," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 159-172, March.
    11. SHEA, Esther Y.P., 2010. "Understanding China's grain procurement policy from a perspective of optimization," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 639-649, December.
    12. Mavroutsikos, Charalampos & Giannakas, Konstantinos & Walters, Cory G., 2018. "Crop Insurance under Asymmetric Information and Different Government Objectives," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273880, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    13. Mogues, Tewodaj, 2012. "What determines public expenditure allocations?: A review of theories, and implications for agricultural public investments," IFPRI discussion papers 1216, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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