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Bureaucrats or Politicians?

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

Policies are typically chosen by politicians and bureaucrats. This paper investigates the e fficiency criteria for allocating policy tasks to elected policymakers (politicians) or non elected bureaucrats. Politicians are more efficient for tasks that do not involve too much specific technical ability relative to effort; there is uncertainty 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. We then compare this benchmark with the case in which politicians choose when to delegate and we show that the two generally differ.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Bureaucrats or Politicians?," NBER Working Papers 10241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10241
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government

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