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Policy Choices by an Incumbent - A Case with Down-Up Problem, Bias Beliefs and Retrospective Voting


  • Carlos Seixas

    () (Faculty of Economics, University of Porto, and CEF.UP)

  • António Brandão

    () (Faculty of Economics, University of Porto, and CEF.UP)

  • Manuel Luís Costa

    () (Faculty of Economics, University of Porto, and CEF.UP)


The main question addressed in the model regards which type of incentives an elected politician has to choose good or bad policies. In order to answer it, we focus on two inefficiencies, recently considered in the literature: the down-up problem and voters having bias beliefs and voting retrospectively. Moreover, we consider that the politician receives utility from holding office and from the success of his projects and, as to his policy platform choice; he can choose any combination of bad (yet popular) policies and good (yet less popular) policies. We are able to show that politicians can choose good long term policy platforms even when those policies have bad short term results. Motivation regarding the success of the projects or an incumbent bias tends to induce the politician to implement a good policy. Unclear responsibilities or campaign promises will have mixed effects on the type of policy implemented.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Seixas & António Brandão & Manuel Luís Costa, 2013. "Policy Choices by an Incumbent - A Case with Down-Up Problem, Bias Beliefs and Retrospective Voting," FEP Working Papers 485, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  • Handle: RePEc:por:fepwps:485

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sven Jari Stehn & Annalisa Fedelino, 2009. "Fiscal Incentive Effects of the German Equalization System," IMF Working Papers 09/124, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does the World Economy Swing National Elections?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(2), pages 163-181, April.
    3. Hans Gersbach, 2004. "Competition of Politicians for Incentive Contracts and Elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 157-177, October.
    4. Leiser, David & Drori, Shelly, 2005. "NaIve understanding of inflation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 179-198, March.
    5. Enriqueta Aragonès & Thomas Palfrey & Andrew Postlewaite, 2007. "Political Reputations and Campaign Promises," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(4), pages 846-884, June.
    6. Rebecca Morton & Charles Cameron, 1992. "Elections And The Theory Of Campaign Contributions: A Survey And Critical Analysis," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 79-108, March.
    7. Ivo Bischoff & Lars-H. Siemers, 2013. "Biased beliefs and retrospective voting: why democracies choose mediocre policies," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 163-180, July.
    8. Bryan Caplan, 2007. "Introduction to The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies," Introductory Chapters,in: The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies Princeton University Press.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ana Pinto Borges & Didier Laussel & João Correia-da-Silva, 2013. "Multidimensional Screening with Complementary Activities: Regulating a Monopolist with Unknown Cost and Unknown Preference for Empire Building," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-29, September.
    2. João Correia-da-Silva & Joana Pinho & Hélder Vasconcelos, 2013. "Cartel stability and profits under different reactions to entry in markets with growing demand," FEP Working Papers 487, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.

    More about this item


    Policy choice; Elections; Voting behavior; Retrospective voting; Biased beliefs; Down-up problem;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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