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Policy experimentation, political competition, and heterogeneous beliefs

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  • Millner, Antony
  • Ollivier, Hélène
  • Simon, Leo

Abstract

We consider a two period model in which an incumbent political party chooses the level of a current policy variable unilaterally, but faces competition from a political opponent in the future. Both parties care about voters' payoffs, but they have different beliefs about how policy choices will map into future economic outcomes. We show that when the incumbent party can endogenously influence whether learning occurs through its policy choices (policy experimentation), future political competition gives it a new incentive to distort its policies — it manipulates them so as to reduce uncertainty and disagreement in the future, thus avoiding facing competitive elections with an opponent very different from itself. The model thus demonstrates that all incumbents can find it optimal to ‘over experiment', relative to a counterfactual in which they are sure to be in power in both periods. We thus identify an incentive for strategic policy manipulation that does not depend on parties having conflicting objectives, but rather stems from their differing beliefs about the consequences of their actions.
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  • Millner, Antony & Ollivier, Hélène & Simon, Leo, 2014. "Policy experimentation, political competition, and heterogeneous beliefs," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60133, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:60133
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    Cited by:

    1. Dumas, Marion & Rising, James & Urpelainen, Johannes, 2016. "Political competition and renewable energy transitions over long time horizons: A dynamic approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 175-184.
    2. Tatiana Kiseleva, 2016. "Heterogeneous Beliefs and Climate Catastrophes," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 65(3), pages 599-622, November.
    3. Antony Millner & Hélène Ollivier, 2016. "Beliefs, Politics, and Environmental Policy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(2), pages 226-244.
    4. Alonso, Ricardo & Câmara, Odilon, 2016. "Political disagreement and information in elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 390-412.
    5. Xie, Yinxi & Xie, Yang, 2017. "Machiavellian experimentation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 685-711.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    beliefs; learning; political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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