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Bureaucrats or Politicians?

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini

Policies are typically chosen by politicians and bureaucrats. This paper investigates the criteria that should lead a society to allocate policy tasks to elected policymakers (politicians) or non elected bureaucrats. Politicians tend to be preferable for tasks that have the following features: they do not involve too much specific technical ability relative to effort; there is uncertainty ex ante about ex post preferences of the public and flexibility is valuable; time inconsistency is not an issue; small but powerful vested interests do not have large stakes in the policy outcome; effective decisions over policies require taking into account policy complementarities and compensating the losers; the policies imply redistributive conflicts among large groups of voters. The reverse apply to the attribution of prerogatives to bureaucrats.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 2009.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2009
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  4. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
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  8. Maskin, Eric, 2002. "On indescribable contingencies and incomplete contracts," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 725-733, May.
  9. Philippe Aghion & Albero Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Endogenous Political Institutions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1957, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Hart, Oliver & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1127-61, November.
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  12. Putnam, Robert D., 1988. "Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 427-460, June.
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  14. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "The Rise of the Regulatory State," NBER Working Papers 8650, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," Working Papers 100, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  16. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  17. Alesina, Alberto & Gatti, Roberta, 1995. "Independent Central Banks: Low Inflation at No Cost?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 196-200, May.
  18. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  19. Kenneth Rogoff & Anne Sibert, 1986. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," NBER Working Papers 1838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
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  23. McCubbins, Mathew D & Noll, Roger G & Weingast, Barry R, 1987. "Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 243-77, Fall.
  24. Christian Schultz, 2003. "Information, Polarization and Delegation in Democracy," EPRU Working Paper Series 03-16, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  25. Alberto F. Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Budget Deficits and Budget Institutions," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 13-36 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The economics of career concerns: part 1 :comparing information structures," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9617, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  27. Alex Cukierman, 1992. "Central Bank Strategy, Credibility, and Independence: Theory and Evidence," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262031981, June.
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  29. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
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  32. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521816755 is not listed on IDEAS
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