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Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare

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  • Andrea Prat

Abstract

This paper investigates the role of campaign advertising and the opportunity of legal restrictions on it. An electoral race is modelled as a signalling game with three classes of players: many voters, two candidates, and one interest group. The group has non-verifiable insider information on the candidates' quality and, on the basis of this information, offers a contribution to each candidate in exchange for a favourable policy position. Candidates spend the contributions they receive on non-directly informative advertising. This paper shows that: (1) a separating equilibrium exists in which the group contributes to a candidate only if the insider information about that candidate is positive; (2) although voters are fully rational, a ban on campaign advertising can be welfare-improving; and (3) split contributions may arise in equilibrium (and, if they arise too often, they are detrimental to voters). Copyright 2002, Wiley-Blackwell.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Prat, 2002. "Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 999-1017.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:69:y:2002:i:4:p:999-1017
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/1467-937X.00234
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1993. "A Simple Theory of Advertising as a Good or Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(4), pages 941-964.
    2. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
    3. Avinash Dixit & Victor Norman, 1978. "Advertising and Welfare," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
    4. Potters, Jan & Sloof, Randolph & van Winden, Frans, 1997. "Campaign expenditures, contributions and direct endorsements: The strategic use of information and money to influence voter behavior," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-31, February.
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    8. Lopez, Rigoberto A & Pagoulatos, Emilio, 1996. "Trade Protection and the Role of Campaign Contributions in U.S. Food and Tobacco Industries," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(2), pages 237-248, April.
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    10. Cukierman, Alex, 1991. "Asymmetric Information and the Electoral Momentum of Public Opinion Polls," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 70(2), pages 181-213, May.
    11. Franklin M. Fisher & John J. McGowan, 1979. "Advertising and Welfare: Comment," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(2), pages 726-727, Autumn.
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    17. Rebecca Morton & Charles Cameron, 1992. "Elections And The Theory Of Campaign Contributions: A Survey And Critical Analysis," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 79-108, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising

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