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A Political Theory of Populism

  • Konstantin Sonin

    (New Economic School)

  • Georgy Egorov

    (Kellogg School of Management)

  • Daron Acemoglu


Populism is described as an ideology which contrasts the interests of the people and the elite, and calls for defense of the interests of the former. In reality, populist politicians are often seen conducting macroeconomic policies that can be hardly justified by the benefits they provide to the very poorest; in many instances, these policies were far to the left of the majority's preference. In this paper, we explain why even a moderate politician seeking reelection may choose leftist policies. The leftist bias is higher when the polarization is high, or when the political class is predominantly occupied by the rich elite. We extend the model to study the environment where some politicians are corrupt and some are not and reach similar conclusions.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2010 Meeting Papers with number 1246.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed010:1246
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

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  19. Rudiger Dornbusch & Sebastian Edwards, 1991. "Introduction to "The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America"," NBER Chapters, in: The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Binswanger, J. & Prüfer, J., 2009. "Imperfect Information, Democracy, and Populism," Discussion Paper 2009-10, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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