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Interest Groups, Information Manipulation in the Media, and Public Policy: The Case of the Landless Peasants Movement in Brazil

  • Lee J. Alston
  • Gary D. Libecap
  • Bernardo Mueller

We extend the literature on interest group behavior and policy outcomes by examining how groups with limited resources (votes and campaign contributions) effectively influence government by manipulating media information to voters. Voters in turn lobby politicians to implement the group's preferred policies. In this manner interest groups can secure favorable government actions beyond their size and wealth. This is an important contribution because of the increased role of the media in the information age and because this linkage better explains observed government policies. We develop a multi-principal, multi-task model of interest group behavior and generate the characteristics of interest groups that would be most successful using publicity to secure their policy objectives. We apply the model to the Landless Peasants' Movement in Brazil. We detail how the Landless Peasants' Movement molds information; show the general voter response; and examine the reaction of politicians in changing the timing and nature of policy.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15865.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15865
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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
  2. Ferraz, Claudio & Finan, Frederico S., 2007. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil’s Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 2836, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  11. José Garcia Gasques & Carlos Monteiro Villa Verde & Eliana Teles Bastos, 2006. "Gastos Públicos em Agricultura: Retrospectiva e Prioridades," Economia, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics], vol. 7(4), pages 209–237.
  12. Bernardo Mueller & Carlos Pereira & Marcus André Melo & Lee J. Alston, 2006. "Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes and Policy Outcomes in Brazil," Research Department Publications 3199, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  13. Ludewigs, Thomas & D'antona, Alvaro de Oliveira & Brondízio, Eduardo Sonnewend & Hetrick, Scott, 2009. "Agrarian Structure and Land-cover Change Along the Lifespan of Three Colonization Areas in the Brazilian Amazon," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1348-1359, August.
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  15. Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller, 2010. "Property Rights, Land Conflict and Tenancy in Brazil," NBER Working Papers 15771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
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