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Bad politicians

Caselli, Francesco and Morelli, Massimo (2001) Bad politicians. 8532. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA., USA.

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Abstract

We present a simple theory of the quality (competence and honesty) of elected officials. Our theory offers four main insights. Low-quality citizens have a “comparative advantage” in pursuing elective office, because their market wages are lower than those of high-quality citizens (competence), and/or because they reap higher returns from holding office (honesty). Hence, voters may find themselves supply constrained of high-quality candidates. Second, bad politicians generate negative externalities for good ones, making their rewards from office increasing in the average quality of office holders. This leads to multiple equilibria in quality. Third, incumbent policymakers can influence the rewards of future policymakers, leading to path dependence in quality: bad governments saw the seeds for more bad governments. Fourth, quality-constrained voters look for the optimal mix of honesty and ability, and this may lead to a negative correlation between these two qualities across political entities.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: http://www.nber.org
Additional Information: © 2001 Francesco Caselli and Massimo Morelli
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
Journal of Economic Literature Classification System: H - Public Economics > H0 - General
K - Law and Economics > K0 - General
Sets: Collections > Economists Online
Research centres and groups > Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)
Departments > Economics
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Identification Number: 8532
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2008 15:35
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/5301/

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