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Transaction Costs and Coalition Stability under Majority Rule

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  • Ronald N. Johnson
  • Gary D. Libecap

Abstract

Government program allocations are more stable and more equally shared than theory predicts. Although various explanations have been offered, we emphasize the high transaction costs of political negotiations and coalition enforcement. Cycling predictions ignore the cost to politicians of repeatedly forming coalitions and neglect the opportunity costs of failed coalitions and the loss of related government programs that bring valuable constituent benefits. Because of these costs, Congress relies on coalitions larger than the minimum necessary to enact a program, adopts relatively egalitarian programmatic sharing rules, and resists efforts to change those allocations. To illustrate we analyze the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald N. Johnson & Gary D. Libecap, 2003. "Transaction Costs and Coalition Stability under Majority Rule," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(2), pages 193-207, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:41:y:2003:i:2:p:193-207
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    Cited by:

    1. Armelle Mazé & Claude Ménard, 2010. "Private ordering, collective action, and the self-enforcing range of contracts," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 131-153, February.
    2. Fleck, Robert K., 2013. "Why did the electorate swing between parties during the Great Depression?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 599-619.
    3. Maze, Armelle, 2006. "Multilateral reputation mechanisms and contract law in agriculture : complement or substitutes," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21285, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    4. John Joseph Wallis & Barry R. Weingast, 2005. "Equilibrium Impotence: Why the States and Not the American National Government Financed Economic Development in the Antebellum Era," NBER Working Papers 11397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Armelle Mazé & Claude Ménard, 2010. "Private Ordering, Collective Action, and the Self-Enforcing Range of Contracts. The Case of French Livestock Industry," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00624288, HAL.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making

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