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Fiscal Restraints and Voter Welfare

  • Timothy Besley
  • Michael Smart

This paper explores the logic of …scal restraints in a political agencymodel with both moral hazard and adverse selection. The role of thepolitical process is both to discipline incumbents who may act againstthe public interest and to sort in those politicians who are most likelyact in voters'interests. We use the model to examine the optimality ofine¢ cient taxation, limits on the size of government, increasing trans-parency, and yardstick competition. Some conclusions are surprising.For example, we show that some forms of …scal restraint can only bedesirable when incumbents are su¢ ciently likely to be benevolent.We are grateful to Jim Hines and a number of seminar participants for insightfulcomments.1

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Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series with number 06.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stipep:06
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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  1. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
  2. Paul Belleflamme & Jean Hindriks, 2001. "Yardstick Competition and Political Agency Problems," Working Papers 441, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  3. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Are consumption taxes really better than income taxes?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 475-503, June.
  4. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
  5. Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 2001. "Incentives and Political Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199248681, March.
  6. Martin Bodenstein & Heinrich Ursprung, 2001. "Political Yardstick Competition, Economic Integration, and Constitutional Choice in a Federation," CESifo Working Paper Series 501, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Bengt Holmstrom, 1981. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Discussion Papers 471, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Sam Peltzman, 1980. "The Growth of Government," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 1, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  9. Andrea Prat, 2002. "The Wrong Kind of Transparency," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 439, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  10. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  11. John Douglas Wilson, 1989. "An Optimal Tax Treatment Of Leviathan," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(2), pages 97-117, 07.
  12. Revelli, Federico, 2002. "Local taxes, national politics and spatial interactions in English district election results," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 281-299, June.
  13. North, Douglass C., 1985. "The growth of government in the United States: An economic historian's perspective," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 383-399, December.
  14. Edwards, Jeremy & Keen, Michael, 1996. "Tax competition and Leviathan," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 113-134, January.
  15. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1992. "Incumbent Behavior: Vote Seeking, Tax Setting and Yardstick Competition," NBER Working Papers 4041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Meyer, Margaret A & Vickers, John, 1997. "Performance Comparisons and Dynamic Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 547-81, June.
  17. Fischer, Stanley & Summers, Lawrence H, 1989. "Should Governments Learn to Live with Inflation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 382-87, May.
  18. Massimo Bordignon & Floriana Cerniglia & Federico Revelli, 2002. "In Search for Yardstick Competition: Property Tax Rates and Electoral Behavior in Italian Cities," CESifo Working Paper Series 644, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. James E. Alt & David Dreyer Lassen, 2003. "Fiscal Transparency and Fiscal Policy Outcomes in OECD Countries," EPRU Working Paper Series 03-02, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  20. James Buchanan & Roger Congleton, 1979. "Proportional and progressive income taxation with utility-maximizing governments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 217-230, June.
  21. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
  22. Salmon, Pierre, 1987. "Decentralisation as an Incentive Scheme," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 24-43, Summer.
  23. Peltzman, Sam, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-61, May.
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