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The Dynamics of Distributive Politics

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  • Marco Battaglini
  • Thomas Palfrey

Abstract

We study dynamic committee bargaining over an infinite horizon with discounting. In each period a committee proposal is generated by a random recognition rule, the committee chooses between the proposal and a status quo by majority rule, and the voting outcome in period t becomes the status quo in period t+1. We study symmetric Markov equilibria of the resulting game and conduct an experiment to test hypotheses generated by the theory for pure distributional (divide-the-dollar) environments. In particular, we investigate the effects of concavity in the utility functions, the existence of a Condorcet winning alternative, and the discount factor (committee "impatience"). We report several new findings. Voting behavior is selfish and myopic. Status quo outcomes have great inertia. There are strong treatment effects, that are in the direction predicted by the Markov equilibrium. We find significant evidence of concave utility functions.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Battaglini & Thomas Palfrey, 2007. "The Dynamics of Distributive Politics," Discussion Papers 1451, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1451
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bowen, T. Renee & Zahran, Zaki, 2012. "On dynamic compromise," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 391-419.
    2. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2007. "Inefficiency in Legislative Policymaking: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 118-149, March.
    3. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2008. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation, and Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 201-236, March.
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    5. Guillaume Fréchette & John H. Kagel & Massimo Morelli, 2005. "Behavioral Identification in Coalitional Bargaining: An Experimental Analysis of Demand Bargaining and Alternating Offers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1893-1937, November.
    6. Barseghyan, Levon & Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2013. "Fiscal policy over the real business cycle: A positive theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(6), pages 2223-2265.
    7. Tasos Kalandrakis, 2007. "Majority Rule Dynamics with Endogenous Status Quo," Wallis Working Papers WP46, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
    8. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Quantal Response Equilibrium and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 247-272, May.
    9. Marina Azzimonti Renzo, 2004. "On the dynamic inefficiency of governments," 2004 Meeting Papers 228, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    11. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
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    13. Fr Chette, Guillaume R. & Kagel, John H. & Lehrer, Steven F., 2003. "Bargaining in Legislatures: An Experimental Investigation of Open versus Closed Amendment Rules," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 97(02), pages 221-232, May.
    14. Guillaume Fréchette & John Kagel & Massimo Morelli, 2012. "Pork versus public goods: an experimental study of public good provision within a legislative bargaining framework," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(3), pages 779-800, April.
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    17. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2003. "Risk averse behavior in generalized matching pennies games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 97-113, October.
    18. Marco Battaglini & Salvatore Nunnari & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2010. "Political Institutions and the Dynamics of Public Investment," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 142, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    19. Kalandrakis, Anastassios, 2004. "A three-player dynamic majoritarian bargaining game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 294-322, June.
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    21. Frechette, Guillaume & Kagel, John H. & Morelli, Massimo, 2005. "Nominal bargaining power, selection protocol, and discounting in legislative bargaining," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1497-1517, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dynamic bargaining; voting; experiments; divide-the-dollar; committees;

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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