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Ideological Polarization, Sticky Information, and Policy Reforms

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  • Tomer Blumkin
  • Volker Grossmann

Abstract

We develop a dynamic two-party political economy framework, in which parties seek to maximize vote share and face the trade-off between catering to their respective core constituencies on the one hand and ‘middle of the road’ voters with no partisan affiliation on the other hand. In contrast to ideology-driven individuals, ‘middle of the road’ voters care about the state of the economy in the sense that a policy reform is desirable for them when the fundamentals of the economy change. However, information is “sticky” in the sense that the process of information diffusion about the state of the economy, which is determined by some exogenous stochastic process, is imperfect. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we show that an increase in ideological polarization may enhance social welfare by mitigating the friction in information flow.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomer Blumkin & Volker Grossmann, 2004. "Ideological Polarization, Sticky Information, and Policy Reforms," CESifo Working Paper Series 1274, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1274
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp1274.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christian Schultz, 1996. "Polarization and Inefficient Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 331-344.
    2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
    3. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2002. "Sticky Information versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1295-1328.
    4. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Fiscal Discipline and the Budget Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 401-407, May.
    5. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-851, July.
    6. Christopher D. Carroll, 2003. "Macroeconomic Expectations of Households and Professional Forecasters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 269-298.
    7. Cukierman, Alex & Tommasi, Mariano, 1998. "When Does It Take a Nixon to Go to China?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 180-197, March.
    8. Kenneth Rogoff & Anne Sibert, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16.
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    10. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
    11. Ron Shachar, 2003. "Party loyalty as habit formation," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 251-269.
    12. Steven Greene, 2004. "Social Identity Theory and Party Identification," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(1), pages 136-153.
    13. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 265-286.
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    Cited by:

    1. Franco Mariuzzo & Patrick Paul Walsh & Ciara Whelan, 2004. "EU Merger Control in Differentiated Product Industries," CESifo Working Paper Series 1312, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Aleksander Berentsen & Esther Bruegger & Simon Loertscher, 2005. "Learning, voting and the information trap," Diskussionsschriften dp0516, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.

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    Keywords

    ideological polarization; sticky information; partisanship; policy reform;

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