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Information, Polarization and Delegation in Democracy

  • Christian Schultz

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

This paper investigates the merits of different democratic institutions when politics is uni-dimensional, there is uncertainty both about the preferences of the future electorate and the future polarization of political parties, and politicians have better information about the state of the world than voters. Three types of institutions are compared: direct democracy, representative democracy where politicians are accountable, and independent agencies where they are not. Low uncertainty about the state of the world and the future electorate’s preferences and high expected polarization make direct democracy optimal, while the opposite configuration makes representative democracy optimal. Independent agencies are optimal for intermediate values.

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Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 03-16.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:03-16
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  1. Eric Maskin, 2003. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000076, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
  3. Anke Kessler, 2005. "Representative versus direct democracy: The role of informational asymmetries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 9-38, January.
  4. Mailath, George J, 1987. "Incentive Compatibility in Signaling Games with a Continuum of Types," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1349-65, November.
  5. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 2003. "Elected Versus Appointed Regulators: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1176-1206, 09.
  6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  7. Schultz, Christian, 2002. "Policy biases with voters' uncertainty about the economy and the government," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 487-506, March.
  8. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
  9. Wilko Letterie & Otto H. Swank, 1998. "Economic Policy, Model Uncertainty and Elections," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 85-103, 03.
  10. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
  11. Schultz, Christian, 1996. "Polarization and Inefficient Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 331-44, April.
  12. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  13. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
  14. Matsusaka, John G, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-71, May.
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