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Political Competition in Economic Perspective

  • Bardhan, Pranab
  • Yang, Tsung-Tao

It is sometimes argued that political competition yields benefits to the citizens just as competition in economic markets yields benefits to consumers. We consider the economic costs and benefits of political competition and find that the story is somewhat more complicated. We first review the limited existing literature on this topic, and in the process, identify a number of distinct interpretations of what constitutes political competition. We then turn our attention to two forms of political competition based on what we refer to as accountability for incumbents and electoral politics. We find that, while political competition can yield allocative benefits for the public, it can also generate aggregate welfare costs by constricting the set of politically feasible public investments.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt1907c39n.

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Date of creation: 13 Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt1907c39n
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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 2002. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 3261, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Skilling, David & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 2002. "Political competition and debt trajectories in Japan and the OECD," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 121-135, April.
  3. Rasmusen, Eric & Ramseyer, J Mark, 1994. " Cheap Bribes and the Corruption Ban: A Coordination Game among Rational Legislators," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 78(3-4), pages 305-27, March.
  4. Guillermo Mondino & Federico Sturzenegger & Mariano Tommasi, 1992. "Recurrent High Inflation and Stabilization, A Dynamic Game," UCLA Economics Working Papers 678, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gerard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202, November.
  6. James A. Robinson & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Political Losers as a Barrier to Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 126-130, May.
  7. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, June.
  8. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
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