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Legislative bargaining and the dynamics of public investment

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  • Battaglini, Marco
  • Nunnari, Salvatore
  • Palfrey, Thomas

Abstract

We present a legislative bargaining model of the provision of a durable public good over an infinite horizion. In each period, there is a societal endowment which can either be invested in the public good or consumed. We characterize the optimal public policy, defined by the time path of investment and consumption. In each period, a legislature with presentatives of each of n districts bargain over the current period's endowment for investment in the public good and transfers to each district. We analyze the Markov perfect equilibrium under different voting q-rules where q is the number of yes votes required for passage. We show that the efficiency of the public policy is increasing in q because higher q leads to higher investment in the public good and less pork. We examine the theoretical equilibrium predictions by conducting a laboratory experiment with fiveperson committees that compares three alternative voting rules: unanimity (q=5); majority (q=3); and dictatorship (q=1).

Suggested Citation

  • Battaglini, Marco & Nunnari, Salvatore & Palfrey, Thomas, 2011. "Legislative bargaining and the dynamics of public investment," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2011-205, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmbh:spii2011205
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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Matthias Messner & Mattias K. Polborn, 2004. "Voting on Majority Rules," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 115-132.
    4. 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.
    5. Marco Battaglini & Thomas Palfrey, 2012. "The dynamics of distributive politics," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(3), pages 739-777, April.
    6. Choi, Syngjoo & Gale, Douglas & Kariv, Shachar & Palfrey, Thomas, 2011. "Network architecture, salience and coordination," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 76-90, September.
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    11. 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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    More about this item

    Keywords

    dynamic political economy; voting; public goods; bargaining; experiments;

    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
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures

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