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Bureaucrats or Politicians?

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

Policies are typically chosen by politicians and bureaucrats. This paper investigates the e fficiency criteria for allocating policy tasks to elected policymakers (politicians) or non elected bureaucrats. Politicians are more efficient for tasks that do not involve too much specific technical ability relative to effort; there is uncertainty about ex post preferences of the public and flexibility is valuable; time inconsistency is not an issue; small but powerful vested interests do not have large stakes in the policy outcome; effective decisions over policies require taking into account policy complementarities and compensating the losers. We then compare this benchmark with the case in which politicians choose when to delegate and we show that the two generally differ.
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Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Bureaucrats or Politicians?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1130, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1130
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 2004. "The European Union: A Politically Incorrect View," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 27-48, Fall.
    2. Ashima Goyal, 2005. "Making the politician and the bureaucrat deliver: Employment guarantee in India," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2005-008, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    3. Masciandaro, Donato & Quintyn, Marc & Taylor, Michael W., 2008. "Inside and outside the central bank: Independence and accountability in financial supervision: Trends and determinants," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 833-848, December.
    4. Pratt, Richard & Berg, Alexander, 2014. "Governance of securities regulators : a framework," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6800, The World Bank.
    5. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
    6. Proost, Stef & De Borger, Bruno & Koskenoja, Pia, 2007. "Chapter 3 Public finance aspects of transport charging and investments," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 59-80, January.
    7. Masciandaro, Donato & Volpicella, Alessio, 2016. "Macro prudential governance and central banks: Facts and drivers," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 101-119.
    8. Donato Masciandaro & María J. Nieto & Henriëtte Prast, 2007. "Financial governance of banking supervision," Working Papers 0725, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    9. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "Why do Politicians Delegate?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2079, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    10. Amihai Glazer & Vesa Kanniainen, 2007. "Short-term leaders should make long-term appointments," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 14(1), pages 55-69, February.
    11. Michael W Taylor & Marc G Quintyn & Eva H. G. Hüpkes, 2005. "The Accountability of Financial Sector Supervisors; Principles and Practice," IMF Working Papers 05/51, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Marc Quintyn, 2009. "Independent agencies: more than a cheap copy of independent central banks?," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 267-295, September.
    13. Amihai GLAZER & Stef PROOST, 2008. "Capital-intensive projects induce more effort than labor-intensive projects," Working Papers of Department of Economics, Leuven ces0831, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), Department of Economics, Leuven.
    14. Mayes, David G. & Nieto, María J. & Wall, Larry, 2008. "Multiple safety net regulators and agency problems in the EU: Is Prompt Corrective Action partly the solution?," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 232-257, September.
    15. Peter Zweifel & Friedrich Breyer, 2012. "The Economics of Social Health Insurance," Chapters, in: Andrew M. Jones (ed.), The Elgar Companion to Health Economics, Second Edition, chapter 12, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. Jakob Haan & Sander Oosterloo, 2006. "Transparency and accountability of central banks in their role of financial stability supervisor in OECD countries," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 255-271, November.
    17. Chiara Del Bo & Massimo Florio, 2012. "Public enterprises, planning and policy adoption: three welfare propositions," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 263-279, December.
    18. Michael Funk & Reiner Eichenberger, 2007. ""It's the Challenger, Stupid!": Elections and the Theory of Rank-Order Tournaments," CREMA Working Paper Series 2007-20, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    19. Mayes, David G. & Nieto, María J. & Wall, Larry, 2007. "Multiple safety net regulators and agency problems in the EU : is Prompt Corrective Action a partial solution," Research Discussion Papers 7/2007, Bank of Finland.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    politics; delegation; bureaucracies;

    JEL classification:

    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)

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