IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/13434.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

From Microeconomic Favoritism to Macroeconomic Populism

Author

Listed:
  • Saint-Paul, Gilles

Abstract

Why would people support policies that are macroeconomically unsound, in that they are more likely to lead to such events as sovereign crises, balance of payments crises, and the like? This may arise if decisive voters are likely to bear a lower fraction of the costs of the crisis, while benefitting from the short-run gains associated with those policies, such as greater public expenditure or lower taxes. I first discuss an illustrative model based on Saint-Paul et al. (2017), based on the assumption that in a crisis, not everybody can access his or her entitlement to publicly provided goods, a feature labelled "favoritism". If the decisive voter is relatively favored in this rationing process, then people are more likely to finance public expenditure by debt, the greater the degree of favoritism. Furthermore, favoritism and the likelihood of a crisis raises the level of public spending. Next, I consider the choice between electing a "populist" who reneges on anonymity when allocating the public good, even in normal times, and a "technocrat" who sticks to anonymity, and does all it takes to balance the budget. I show that the support for the populist is greater, (i) the greater the likelihood of default, (ii) the more depressed the macroeconomic environment, (iii) the greater the inherited level of public debt and (iv) the lower the state's fiscal capacity. I then argue that the model helps understanding some episodes in French pension reform. Some occupational groups supported unsustainable reductions in the retirement age because they expected that other workers would bear a higher proportion of the burden of future adjustment. Finally, using a panel of countries, I provide evidence in favor of some of the predictions of the model. As predicted, favoritism raises public debt, budget deficits, and public spending. It also raises the likelihood of a fiscal crisis through its effect on public debt. Furthermore, "populists" are more likely to conquer power, the higher the degree of debt and budget deficits, and the higher the level of government spending--the latter finding being consistent with the model's prediction on the effect of fiscal capacity.

Suggested Citation

  • Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2019. "From Microeconomic Favoritism to Macroeconomic Populism," CEPR Discussion Papers 13434, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13434
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13434
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
    2. James A. Robinson & Thierry Verdier, 2013. "The Political Economy of Clientelism," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 260-291, April.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & Drazen, Allan, 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1170-1188, December.
    4. Franck, Raphaã‹L & Rainer, Ilia, 2012. "Does the Leader's Ethnicity Matter? Ethnic Favoritism, Education, and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 294-325, May.
    5. Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2013. "A Political Theory of Populism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 771-805.
    6. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Gilles Saint-Paul & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2017. "Engineering Crises: Favoritism and Strategic Fiscal Indiscipline," PSE Working Papers halshs-01584043, HAL.
    2. Leonardo A. Gatica Arreola, 2012. "¿Por qué el distanciamiento ideológico disminuye la provisión de bienes públicos?; una explicación basada en el empleo clientelar," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 39(1 Year 20), pages 27-51, June.
    3. Manoel Bittencourt, 2015. "Determinants of Government and External Debt: Evidence from the Young Democracies of South America," Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(3), pages 463-472, May.
    4. Manoel Bittencourt, 2013. "Young Democracies and Government Size: Evidence from South America," Working Papers 329, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    5. Frédéric Gaspart & Pierre Pecher, 2019. "Ethnic Inclusiveness of the Central State Government and Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 28(2), pages 176-201.
    6. Manoel Bittencourt, 2012. "Economic Growth and Government Debt: Evidence from the Young Democracies of Latin America," Working Papers 201203, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
    7. Reiner Eichenberger & David Stadelmann, 2009. "Consequences of Debt Capitalization: Property Ownership and Debt/Tax Choice," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    8. Mejia, Daniel & Posada, Carlos-Esteban, 2007. "Populist policies in the transition to democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 932-953, December.
    9. Rougier, Eric, 2016. "“Fire in Cairo”: Authoritarian–Redistributive Social Contracts, Structural Change, and the Arab Spring," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 148-171.
    10. Prato, Carlo & Wolton, Stephane, 2018. "Rational ignorance, populism, and reform," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 119-135.
    11. Khan, Safdar Ullah & Saqib, Omar Farooq, 2011. "Political instability and inflation in Pakistan," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 540-549.
    12. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't The US Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1933, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    13. Bluhm, Richard & Thomsson, Kaj, 2020. "Holding on? Ethnic divisions, political institutions and the duration of economic declines," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    14. Anand, Kartik & Gai, Prasanna & König, Philipp Johann, 2020. "Leaping into the dark: A theory of policy gambles," Discussion Papers 07/2020, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    15. Micael Castanheira & Gaëtan Nicodème & Paola Profeta, 2012. "On the political economics of tax reforms: survey and empirical assessment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(4), pages 598-624, August.
    16. Beate Jochimsen & Robert Nuscheler, 2011. "The political economy of the German Lander deficits: weak governments meet strong finance ministers," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(19), pages 2399-2415.
    17. Stijn Goeminne & Benny Geys & Carine Smolders, 2008. "Political fragmentation and projected tax revenues: evidence from Flemish municipalities," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(3), pages 297-315, June.
    18. Axel Dreher & Sarah Langlotz & Silvia Marchesi, 2017. "Information Transmission And Ownership Consolidation In Aid Programs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1671-1688, October.
    19. Karakas, Leyla D. & Mitra, Devashish, 2020. "Inequality, redistribution and the rise of outsider candidates," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 1-16.
    20. Keefer, Philip & Khemani, Stuti, 2003. "Democracy, public expenditures, and the poor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3164, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Entitlements; favoritism; Fiscal Crises; inequality; political economy; populism; public debt; state capacity;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13434. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.