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The Voter's Blunt Tool

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  • Bowen, T. Renee

    (Stanford University)

  • Mo, Cecilia Hyunjung

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

When do voters win? Democracies have appealing properties, but failures of democracies to produce policies that benefit the voter abound. What conditions determine the success of the unorganized voter who only possess a blunt tool-- the vote-- versus an organized special interest group or firm? In this paper we derive with minimal assumptions conditions under which a democracy will produce policies that favor the voter. The model predictions are consistent with Besley, Persson and Sturm (2010), who show that increasing political competition leads to policies that benefit the voter. In addition, we show that increasing office holding benefits, decreasing potential rents to firms and increasing the salience of policy also leads to policies that benefit the voter. We find a positive interaction between the effect of political competition and office holding benefits. We support the model with data from the United States and find empirical evidence that increasing governors' salary decreased taxes paid by individuals through income tax relative to corporate tax, and increasing Governor salary increased minimum wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Bowen, T. Renee & Mo, Cecilia Hyunjung, 2012. "The Voter's Blunt Tool," Research Papers 2115, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2115
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    File URL: https://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2115-2.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    2. Di Tella, Rafael & Fisman, Raymond, 2004. "Are Politicians Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 477-513, October.
    3. Caselli, Francesco & Morelli, Massimo, 2004. "Bad politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 759-782, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael J. Peel, 2014. "Addressing unobserved endogeneity bias in accounting studies: control and sensitivity methods by variable type," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(5), pages 545-571, October.

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