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Has Leviathan Been Bound? A Theory of Imperfectly Constrained Government with Evidence from the States

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  • Bryan Caplan

    () (Department of Economics and Center for Study of Public Choice, George Mason University)

Abstract

This paper develops a formal theory that combines power-maximizing “Leviathan” political parties with well-defined imperfections in the political process. The model implies that both parties tend to make government larger as their likelihood of electoral victory increases. Empirical tests on state-level data confirm this prediction. Racing the Leviathan hypothesis against alternative theories of party motivation indicates that both the Leviathan and the “contrasting ideologies” views have some degree of validity.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryan Caplan, 2001. "Has Leviathan Been Bound? A Theory of Imperfectly Constrained Government with Evidence from the States," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 825-847, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:67:4:y:2001:p:825-847
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:pubcho:v:174:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0491-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Raúl A. Ponce Rodríguez & Ikuho Kochi & Luis E. Gutiérrez Casas, 2015. "The structure of political power and redistribution in economies with multiple governments," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 30(2), pages 269-303.
    3. Pal, Rupayan & Sharma, Ajay, 2013. "Endogenizing governments' objectives in tax competition," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 570-578.
    4. Marco Alderighi & Christophe Feder, 2014. "Political competition, power allocation and welfare in unitary and federal systems," Working Paper series 23_14, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    5. J. Stephen Ferris, 2010. "Fiscal Policy from a Public Choice Perspective," Carleton Economic Papers 10-10, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
    6. Aidan R. Vining, 2003. "Internal Market Failure: A Framework for Diagnosing Firm Inefficiency," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 431-457, March.
    7. Ashworth, John & Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno, 2006. "Determinants of tax innovation: The case of environmental taxes in Flemish municipalities," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 223-247, March.
    8. Johnson, Noel D & Matthew, Mitchell & Yamarik, Steven, 2012. "Pick Your Poison: Do Politicians Regulate When They Can’t Spend?," MPRA Paper 37430, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. repec:kap:pubcho:v:175:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-018-0519-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:hal:cesptp:hal-00800688 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Reed, W. Robert, 2006. "Democrats, republicans, and taxes: Evidence that political parties matter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 725-750, May.
    12. Niklas Potrafke, 2017. "Government Ideology and Economic Policy-Making in the United States," CESifo Working Paper Series 6444, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Leigh, Andrew, 2008. "Estimating the impact of gubernatorial partisanship on policy settings and economic outcomes: A regression discontinuity approach," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 256-268, March.
    14. Albert Solé-Ollé, 2006. "The effects of party competition on budget outcomes: Empirical evidence from local governments in Spain," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 145-176, January.
    15. Benoît Le Maux, 2009. "Governmental behavior in representative democracy: a synthesis of the theoretical literature," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 447-465, December.
    16. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-17-00359 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Eric Dubois & Matthieu Leprince & Sonia Paty, 2007. "The Effects of Politics on Local Tax Setting: Evidence from France," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(8), pages 1603-1618, July.
    18. Propheter Geoffrey, 2015. "Political Institutions and State Sales Tax Base Erosion," Statistics, Politics and Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1-2), pages 1-17, December.
    19. Caplan, Bryan, 2001. "When is two better than one? How federalism mitigates and intensifies imperfect political competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 99-119, April.
    20. Sole Olle, Albert, 2003. "Electoral accountability and tax mimicking: the effects of electoral margins, coalition government, and ideology," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 685-713, November.
    21. Leandro M. de Magalhães, 2011. "Political Parties and the Tax Level in the American States: A Regression Discontinuity Design," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 11/622, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.

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