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Experimentation in Federal Systems

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  • Steven Callander
  • Bård Harstad

Abstract

We present a model where heterogeneous districts choose both whether to experiment and the policies to experiment with. Since districts learn from each other, the first-best requires that policy experiments converge so that innovations are useful also for neighbors. However, the equilibrium implies the reverse - policy divergence - since each district uses its policy choice to discourage free-riding. We then study a clumsy central government that harmonizes final policy choices. This progressive concentration of power induces a policy tournament that can increase the incentive to experiment and encourage policy convergence. We derive the best political regime as well as the optimal levels of heterogeneity, transparency, prizes, and intellectual property rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Callander & Bård Harstad, 2013. "Experimentation in Federal Systems," NBER Working Papers 19601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19601
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ben Lockwood, 2002. "Distributive Politics and the Costs of Centralization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 313-337.
    2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2002. "Political economics and public finance," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 24, pages 1549-1659 Elsevier.
    3. Kollman, Ken & Miller, John H & Page, Scott E, 2000. "Decentralization and the Search for Policy Solutions," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 102-128, April.
    4. Godfrey Keller & Sven Rady & Martin Cripps, 2005. "Strategic Experimentation with Exponential Bandits," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 39-68, January.
    5. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
    6. Koleman S. Strumpf & Felix Oberholzer-Gee, 2002. "Endogenous Policy Decentralization: Testing the Central Tenet of Economic Federalism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-36, February.
    7. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 623-646, May.
    8. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
    9. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
    10. Jacques Cremer & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2000. "Federal Mandates by Popular Demand," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 905-927, October.
    11. Bård Harstad, 2007. "Harmonization and Side Payments in Political Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 871-889, June.
    12. Strumpf, Koleman S, 2002. " Does Government Decentralization Increase Policy Innovation?," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(2), pages 207-241.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. T. Renee Bowen & George Georgiadis & Nicolas S. Lambert, 2016. "Collective Choice in Dynamic Public Good Provision," NBER Working Papers 22772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bowen, T. Renee & Georgiadis, George & Lambert, Nicolas S., 2015. "Collective Choice in Dynamic Public Good Provision: Real versus Formal Authority," Research Papers 3346, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    3. Carsten Hefeker & Michael Neugart, 2017. "Non-cooperative and Cooperative Policy Reforms under Uncertainty and Spillovers," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201707, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    4. Alonso, Ricardo & Câmara, Odilon, 2016. "Political disagreement and information in elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 390-412.
    5. Millimet, Daniel L., 2013. "Environmental Federalism: A Survey of the Empirical Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 7831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Bernecker, Andreas & Boyer, Pierre C. & Gathmann, Christina, 2015. "Trial and Error? Reelection Concerns and Policy Experimentation during the U.S. Welfare Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 9113, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:4:p:685-711 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Cuicui Chen & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 2016. "Collective Action in an Asymmetric World," NBER Working Papers 22240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Johannes Becker & Ronald B. Davies, 2015. "Learning to Tax ?- Interjurisdictional Tax Competition under Incomplete Information," Working Papers 201519, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    10. Tim Willems, 2013. "Political Accountability and Policy Experimentation: Why to Elect Left-Handed Politicians?," Economics Series Working Papers 647, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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