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Sources of inefficiency in a representative democracy : a dynamic analysis

Besley, Timothy and Coate, Stephen (1998) Sources of inefficiency in a representative democracy : a dynamic analysis. American Economic Review, 88 (1). pp. 139-156. ISSN 0002-8282

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This paper studies the efficiency of policy choice in representative democracies. It extends the citizen-candidate model of democratic policy-making to a dynamic environment. Equilibrium policy choices are shown to be efficient in the sense that in each period, conditional on future policies being selected through the democratic process, there exists no alternative current policy choices which can raise the expected utilities of all citizens. However, policies that would be declared efficient by standard economic criteria are not necessarily adopted in political equilibrium. The paper argues that these divergencies are legitimately viewed as "politicalfailures."

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1998 American Economic Association
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D6 - Welfare Economics > D61 - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D78 - Positive Analysis of Policy-Making and Implementation
H - Public Economics > H1 - Structure and Scope of Government > H11 - Structure, Scope, and Performance of Government
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 03:34

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