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Government Gains from Self-Restraint: A Bargaining Theory of Inefficient Redistribution Policies

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  • Drazen, Allan
  • Limão, Nuno

Abstract

We consider a bargaining model of the interaction between a government and interest groups in which, unlike existing models, neither side is assumed to have all the bargaining power. The government will then find it optimal to constrain itself in the use of transfer policies to improve its bargaining position. In a model of redistribution to lobbies, the government will find it optimal to cap the size of lump-sum transfers it makes below the unconstrained equilibrium level. One implication is that with the optimal cap on efficient subsidies in place, less efficient subsidies will be used for redistribution even when they serve no economic function. We thus offer an alternative theory that explains why governments may optimally choose to restrict efficient lump-sum transfers to interest groups and partially replace them with relatively less efficient transfers.

Suggested Citation

  • Drazen, Allan & Limão, Nuno, 2003. "Government Gains from Self-Restraint: A Bargaining Theory of Inefficient Redistribution Policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 4007, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Allan Drazen, 2002. "Conditionality and Ownership in IMF Lending: A Political Economy Approach," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 49(Special i), pages 36-67.
    2. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    3. Bruce, Neil & Waldman, Michael, 1991. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Nonpaternalistic," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1345-1351, December.
    4. John Douglas Wilson, 1990. "Are Efficiency Improvements In Government Transfer Policies Self-Defeating In Political Equilibrium?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 241-258, November.
    5. Westcott, Paul C. & Young, C. Edwin & Price, J. Michael, 2002. "The 2002 Farm Act: Provisions And Implications For Commodity Markets," Agricultural Information Bulletins 33745, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    6. Kalai, Ehud & Smorodinsky, Meir, 1975. "Other Solutions to Nash's Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 513-518, May.
    7. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-1235, December.
    8. Dixit, Avinash & Londregan, John, 1995. "Redistributive Politics and Economic Efficiency," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 89(04), pages 856-866, December.
    9. Drazen, Allan, 2002. "Conditionality and Ownership in IMF Lending: A Political Economy Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 3562, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Dixit, Avinash & Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1997. "Common Agency and Coordination: General Theory and Application to Government Policy Making," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 752-769, August.
    11. 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.
    12. Rodrik, Dani, 1986. "Tariffs, subsidies, and welfare with endogenous policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 285-299, November.
    13. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A., 2001. "Inefficient Redistribution," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 95(03), pages 649-661, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Börner, Kira, 2004. "Political Economy Reasons for Government Inertia: The Role of Interest Groups in the Case of Access to Medicines," Discussion Papers in Economics 313, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    2. Boerner, Kira, 2005. "Having Everyone in the Boat May Sink it - Interest Group Involvement and Policy Reforms," Discussion Papers in Economics 730, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    3. Amin, Mohammad & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2006. "Can guest worker schemes reduce illegal migration ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3828, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    bargaining; caps; inefficient transfers; lobbies; special interests;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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