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Power Fluctuations and Political Economy

  • Daron Acemoglu

    (MIT and CIFAR)

  • Michael Golosov

    (Yale University and NES)

  • Aleh Tsyvinski

    (Yale University and NES)

We study the constrained Pareto efficient allocations in a dynamic production economy in which the group that holds political power decides the allocation of resources. We show that Pareto efficient allocations take a quasi-Markovian structure and can be represented recursively as a function of the identity of the group in power and updated Pareto weights. For high discount factors, the economy converges to a first-best allocation in which labor supply decisions are not distorted and the levels of labor supply and consumption are constant over time (though there may be transfers from one group to another). For low discount factors, the economy converges to an invariant stochastic distribution in which distortions do not disappear and labor supply and consumption levels fluctuate over time. The labor supply of groups that are not in power are taxed in order to reduce the deviation payoff of the party in power and thus relax the political economy/sustainability constraints. We also show that the set of sustainable first-best allocations is larger when there is less persistence in the identity of the party in power. This result contradicts a common conjecture that there will be fewer distortions when the political system creates a “stable ruling group”. In contrast, political economy distortions are less important when there are frequent changes in power (because this encourages compromise between social groups). Despite this result, it remains true that distortions decrease along sample paths where a particular group remains in power for a longer span of time.

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Paper provided by Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) in its series EIEF Working Papers Series with number 0911.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision: Sep 2009
Handle: RePEc:eie:wpaper:0911
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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Golosov, Mikhail & Tsyvinski, Aleh, 2011. "Political economy of Ramsey taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 467-475, August.
  2. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
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  4. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2007. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation and Debt," Discussion Papers 1441, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  7. Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2010. "Dynamic Mirrlees Taxation under Political Economy Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 841-881.
  8. Edward C Prescott & Robert M Townsend, 1997. "General Competitive Analysis in an Economy with Private Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1578, David K. Levine.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2007. "Political Economy of Mechanisms," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000886, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  18. Acemoglu, Daron & Golosov, Mikhail & Tsyvinski, Aleh, 2008. "Markets versus governments," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 159-189, January.
  19. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
  20. Mark Aguiar & Manuel Amador, 2011. "Growth in the Shadow of Expropriation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 651-697.
  21. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did The West Extend The Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, And Growth In Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199, November.
  22. repec:bla:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:4:p:987-1009 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2008. "Coalition Formation in Non-Democracies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 987-1009.
  24. Roger Lagunoff, 2006. "Dynamic Stability and Reform of Political Institutions," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000051, UCLA Department of Economics.
  25. Sonin, Konstantin, 2003. "Why the rich may favor poor protection of property rights," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 715-731, December.
  26. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1990. "Income fluctuation and asymmetric information: An example of a repeated principal-agent problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 367-390, August.
  27. Avinash Dixit & Gene M. Grossman & Faruk Gul, 2000. "The Dynamics of Political Compromise," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 531-568, June.
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