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Do Politicians’ Preferences Correspond to those of the Voters? An Investigation of Political Representation

  • Dahlberg, Matz


    (Department of Economics)

  • Mörk, Eva


    (Department of Economics)

  • Ågren, Hanna

    (Department of Economics)

This paper investigates to what extent voters and politicians have the same preferences for locally provided welfare services. We make use of two different types of survey questionnaires; one directed towards voters and one directed towards politicians. We reach two main conclusions in the paper. First, we find that politicians have preferences for significantly different spending on locally provided welfare services compared to voters. Second, this difference remains even after controlling for politicians and voters having different socio-economic characteristics. For example, when analyzing female representation, we find that female politicians have significantly different preferences for spending than female voters. One implication of the latter result is that an increase in the ratio of female to male politicians may not be the only way to deal with the desire to increase the political representation of women.

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Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 2004:2.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 20 Jan 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Public Choice, 2006, pages 137-162.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2004_002
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
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  1. Svaleryd, Helena, 2002. "Femal Representation - Is it Important for Policy Decisions?," Research Papers in Economics 2002:7, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  2. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
  3. Esther Duflo & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, 2004. "Women as policy makers: Evidence from a randomized policy experiment in india," Framed Field Experiments 00224, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  5. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
  6. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  7. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect Or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859, August.
  8. Besley, Timothy J. & Case, Anne, 2002. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 3498, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senate Ideology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 425-41, June.
  10. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Rubinfeld, Daniel L & Shapiro, Perry, 1982. "Micro-Based Estimates of Demand Functions for Local School Expenditures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1183-1205, September.
  11. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
  12. Åsa Ahlin & Eva Johansson, 2001. "Individual Demand for Local Public Schooling: Evidence from Swedish Survey Data," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 331-351, August.
  13. Hanna Ågren & Matz Dahlberg & Eva Mörk, 2007. "Do politicians’ preferences correspond to those of the voters? An investigation of political representation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 137-162, January.
  14. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  15. Pettersson-Lidbom , Per, 2003. "Do Parties Matter for Fiscal Policy Choices? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Research Papers in Economics 2003:15, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
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