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Uncertainty, Electoral Incentives and Political Myopia

  • Alessandra Bonfiglioli


  • Gino Gancia


In this paper, we study the determinants of political myopia in a rational model of electoral accountability where the key elements are informational frictions and uncertainty. We build a framework where political ability is ex-ante unknown and policy choices are not perfectly observable. On the one hand, elections improve accountability and allow to keep well-performing incumbents. On the other, politicians invest too little in costly policies with future returns in an attempt to signal high ability and increase their reelection probability. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, uncertainty reduces political myopia and may, under some conditions, increase social welfare. We use the model to study how political rewards can be set so as to maximise social welfare and the desirability of imposing a one-term limit to governments. The predictions of our theory are consistent with a number of stylised facts and with a new empirical observation documented in this paper: aggregate uncertainty, measured by economic volatility, is associated to better ...scal discipline in a panel of 20 OECD countries.

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Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 915.12.

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Length: 36
Date of creation: 05 Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:915.12
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  1. Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2011. "Heterogeneous Information and Trade Policy," 2011 Meeting Papers 189, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Marco Buti & Alessandro Turrini & Paul Van den Noord & Pietro Biroli, 2010. "Reforms and re-elections in OECD countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 61-116, 01.
  3. List, John & Sturm, Daniel M, 2004. "How Elections Matter: Theory and Evidence from Environmental Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 4489, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Ponzetto, Giacomo AM & Troiano, Ugo, 2014. "Social Capital, Government Expenditures, and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 9891, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Drazen, Allan & Eslava, Marcela, 2010. "Electoral manipulation via voter-friendly spending: Theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 39-52, May.
  6. Blundell, R. & Bond, S., 1995. "Initial Conditions and Moment Restrictions in Dynamic Panel Data Models," Economics Papers 104, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  7. Mattozzi, Andrea & Merlo, Antonio, 2007. "Political Careers or Career Politicians?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6164, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Kiviet, Jan F., 1995. "On bias, inconsistency, and efficiency of various estimators in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 53-78, July.
  9. Paola Conconi & Giovanni Facchini & Maurizio Zanardi, 2011. "Policymakers’ Horizon and Trade Reforms," Development Working Papers 311, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  10. Marcela Eslava, 2011. "The Political Economy Of Fiscal Deficits: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(4), pages 645-673, 09.
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