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Political Competition (A theory with applications to the distribution of income)


  • John Roemer

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)


The formal model of political competition almost ubiquitously employed by students of political economy is one in which political parties play no role. That model, introduced by Anthony Downs (1957) over forty years ago, portrays a competition between candidates, whose sole motivation for engaging in politics is to enjoy the power and perquisites of office holding. Although voters care about policies, the candidates do not; for them, a policy is simply an instrument to be used, opportunistically, as an entry ticket to a prosperous career. Political parties, however, have, throughout the history of democracy, cared about policies, perhaps because they are formed by interest groups of citizens. Therefore the Downsian model cannot be viewed as an historically accurate model of party competition.

Suggested Citation

  • John Roemer, 2003. "Political Competition (A theory with applications to the distribution of income)," Working Papers 9912, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:99-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
    2. Charles C. Chang & Eduardo Fernández-Arias & Luis Servén, 1998. "Measuring Aid Flows: A New Approach," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1297, Inter-American Development Bank.
    3. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    4. Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2002. "Aid allocation and poverty reduction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1475-1500, September.
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