Political competition, learning and the consequences of heterogeneous beliefs for long-run public projects
An incumbent political party, who cares only about voters' welfare, faces future political competition from a similarly well-intentioned party whose beliefs about the consequences of a `long-run' public policy are different from its own. We show that when the incumbent can endogenously influence whether learning occurs (active learning), future political competition gives her an incentive to distort her policy choices so as to reduce uncertainty and disagreement in the future. This incentive pushes all incumbents' policies in the same direction. We demonstrate this mechanism in a two period model of the regulation of a stock pollutant that combines the literature on uncertainty and learning in intertemporal choice with a simple model of political competition. If the interaction between active learning and political competition is strong enough, all incumbents, regardless of their beliefs, will emit more than they would like. Our model thus offers a candidate explanation for the weakness of long-run environmental policy in democracies that applies even in an ideal world in which politicians' objectives are aligned with voters'. The mechanism we identify is likely to apply in many long-run public policy contexts.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE|
Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/grantham.
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Karp, Larry & Zhang, Jiangfeng, 2006. "Regulation with anticipated learning about environmental damages," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 259-279, May.
- Anthony Fisher & Urvashi Narain, 2003. "Global Warming, Endogenous Risk, and Irreversibility," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 25(4), pages 395-416, August.
- marina, azzimonti, 2009.
"Barriers to investment in polarized societies,"
25936, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Kelly, David L. & Kolstad, Charles D., 1999. "Bayesian learning, growth, and pollution," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 491-518, February.
- Henry, Claude, 1974. "Investment Decisions Under Uncertainty: The "Irreversibility Effect."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 1006-12, December.
- Bohn, Frank, 2007. "Polarisation, uncertainty and public investment failure," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 1077-1087, December.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp104. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (The GRI Administration)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.