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Are We Better Off If Our Politicians Have More Information?

  • Johan Lagerlof

    (WZB -- Social Science Research Center Berlin)

This paper studies a model of public policy with heterogenous citizens/voters and two public goods: one (roads) is chosen directly by an elected policymaker, and the other (pollution) depends stochastically on the amount of roads. Both a one-country and a two-country version of the model are analyzed, the latter displaying externalities across the countries which creates incentives for free riding and strategic delegation. The welfare effects of providing the policymaker with information about the relationship between roads and pollution are investigated, and it is shown that more information hurts some – sometimes even all – citizens. In particular, the absence of an institution for information gathering can serve as a commitment device for a country, helping it avoid the free-riding problem. Implications for the welfare effects of “informational lobbying” are discussed.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/pe/papers/0209/0209001.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0209001.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 17 Sep 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0209001
Note: Type of Document - ; pages: 23; figures: na
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Gersbach, Hans, 1991. "The value of public information in majority decisions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 239-242, March.
  2. Johan Lagerlöf, 2001. "Costly Information Acquisition and Delegation to a "Liberal" Central Banker," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 221-236, November.
  3. Sakai, Yasuhiro, 1985. "The value of information in a simple duopoly model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 36-54, June.
  4. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1971. "The Private and Social Value of Information and the Reward to Inventive Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(4), pages 561-74, September.
  5. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-223989 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1759, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Potters, Jan & van Winden, Frans, 1992. " Lobbying and Asymmetric Information," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 74(3), pages 269-92, October.
  8. Nahum D. Melumad & Toshiyuki Shibano, 1991. "Communication in Settings with No. Transfers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(2), pages 173-198, Summer.
  9. Jean-Pierre Ponssard, 1976. "On the Concept of the Value of Information in Competitive Situations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(7), pages 739-747, March.
  10. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1990. "The Politics of 1992: Fiscal Policy and European Integration," NBER Working Papers 3460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Paul Heidhues & Johan Lagerlöf, 2000. "Hiding Information in Electoral Competition," CIG Working Papers FS IV 00-06, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG), revised Feb 2002.
  12. Cremer, Jacques, 1995. "Arm's Length Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 275-95, May.
  13. Reed, W Robert, 1989. "Information in Political Markets: A Little Knowledge Can Be a Dangerous Thing," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 355-74, Fall.
  14. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, June.
  15. Putnam, Robert D., 1988. "Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 427-460, June.
  16. Carrillo, Juan D & Mariotti, Thomas, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 529-44, July.
  17. Bulow, Jeremy I & Geanakoplos, John D & Klemperer, Paul D, 1985. "Multimarket Oligopoly: Strategic Substitutes and Complements," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 488-511, June.
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