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

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee J. Alston & Gary D. Libecap & Bernardo Mueller, 2010. "Interest Groups, Information Manipulation in the Media, and Public Policy: The Case of the Landless Peasants Movement in Brazil," NBER Working Papers 15865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15865 Note: DAE EEE LE POL
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    1. Alston, Lee J. & Libecap, Gary D. & Mueller, Bernardo, 1999. "A model of rural conflict: violence and land reform policy in Brazil," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 135-160, May.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:02:p:567-573_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. J. K. Ashton & B. Gerrard & R. Hudson, 2003. "Economic impact of national sporting success: evidence from the London stock exchange," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(12), pages 783-785.
    6. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745.
    7. 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.
    8. Lee J. Alston & Marcus André Melo & Bernardo Mueller & Carlos Pereira, 2006. "Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes and Policy Outcomes in Brazil," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 3365, Inter-American Development Bank.
    9. José Garcia Gasques & Carlos Monteiro Villa Verde & Eliana Teles Bastos, 2006. "Gastos Públicos em Agricultura: retrospectiva e prioridades," Discussion Papers 1225, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
    10. van Winden, Frans, 1999. "On the Economic Theory of Interest Groups: Towards a Group Frame of Reference in Political Economics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 100(1-2), pages 1-29, July.
    11. Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller, 2010. "Property Rights, Land Conflict and Tenancy in Brazil," NBER Working Papers 15771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. MacKinnon, James G, 1996. "Numerical Distribution Functions for Unit Root and Cointegration Tests," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 601-618, Nov.-Dec..
    13. 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.
    14. David P. Baron, 1989. "Service-Induced Campaign Contributions and the Electoral Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(1), pages 45-72.
    15. Besley, Timothy & Burgess, Robin, 2001. "Political agency, government responsiveness and the role of the media," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 629-640, May.
    16. David Strömberg, 2004. "Mass Media Competition, Political Competition, and Public Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 265-284.
    17. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Petrova, Maria, 2012. "Mass media and special interest groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 17-38.
    2. Simeon Alder & Guillermo Ordonez, 2016. "Deceptive Redistribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 22, pages 223-239, October.
    3. Couttenier, Mathieu & Hatte, Sophie, 2016. "Mass media effects on non-governmental organizations," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 57-72.
    4. Carlos Pestana Barros & Ari Francisco de Araujo Jr. & João Ricardo Faria & João Ricardo Faria, 2013. "Brazilian Land Tenure and Conflicts: The Landless Peasants Movement," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 33(1), pages 47-75, Winter.
    5. Simeon Alder & Guillermo Ordonez, 2016. "Deceptive Redistribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 22, pages 223-239, October.
    6. Mueller, Bernardo & Mueller, Charles, 2016. "The political economy of the Brazilian model of agricultural development: Institutions versus sectoral policy," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 12-20.
    7. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Bowser, William & Nelson, Carl H., 2012. "Land institutions, investments, and income diversification : Pathways to economic development for Brazil’s quilombo communities," IFPRI discussion papers 1179, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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