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Serving the Public Interest

  • Thomas Markussen
  • Jean-Robert Tyran

We present a model of political selection in which voters elect a president from a set of candidates. We assume that some of the candidates are benevolent and that all voters prefer a benevolent president, i.e. a president who serves the public interest. Yet, political selection may fail in our model because voters cannot easily tell benevolent from egoistic candidates by observing their pre-election behavior. Egoistic types may strategically imitate benevolent types in the pre-election stage to extract rents once in office. We show that strategic imitation is less likely if the political system is likely to produce good governance. That is, if benevolent candidates are common, if the president has little discretionary power, and if the public sector is effective. We analyze the role of institutions like investigative media and re-election and show that they can improve or further hamper political selection, depending on the parameters of the political game.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2010-21.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2010_21
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  1. Caselli, Francesco & Morelli, Massimo, 2004. "Bad politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 759-782, March.
  2. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2005. "Political Selection and the Quality of Government: Evidence from South India," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 08, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  3. Michael Smart & Daniel Sturm, 2004. "Term limits and electoral accountability," Economic History Working Papers 20283, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
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  7. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2009. "Political Selection and Persistence of Bad Governments," NBER Working Papers 15230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Frederico Finan & Claudio Ferraz, 2009. "Motivating Politicians: The Impacts of Monetary Incentives on Quality and Performance," Working Papers id:1889, eSocialSciences.
  10. Messner, Matthias & Polborn, Mattias K., 2004. "Paying politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2423-2445, December.
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  11. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
  12. Fernanda Brollo & Tommaso Nannicini & Roberto Perotti & Guido Tabellini, 2009. "The Political Resource Curse," Working Papers 356, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  13. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2005. "Political Selection and the Qualilty of Government: Evidence from South India," Working Papers 921, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  14. Enriqueta Aragonés & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2000. "Mixed equilibrium in a Downsian model with a favored candidate," Economics Working Papers 502, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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  18. Gersbach, Hans, 2004. "The Paradox of Competence," CEPR Discussion Papers 4362, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  24. Sundadam, R.K. & Banks, J., 1991. "Adverse Selection and Moral hazard in a Repeated Elections Models," RCER Working Papers 283, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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  28. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521417815 is not listed on IDEAS
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