What to Put on and What to Keep Off the Table? A Politician's Choice of Which Issues to Address

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. TI 12-127/VII

30 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2012

See all articles by Rei Sayag

Rei Sayag

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Otto H. Swank

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Economics; Tinbergen Institute Rotterdam (TIR)

Date Written: November 29, 2012

Abstract

At the start of their term, politicians often announce which issue they intend to address. To shed light on this agenda setting, we develop a model in which a politician has to decide whether or not to address a public issue. Addressing an issue means that the politician investigates the issue and next chooses for either a major reform or a minor reform. Not addressing an issue means that the status quo is maintained. Politicians differ in their ability to make correct decisions. They want to make good decisions and want to come across as able decision makers. An important characteristic of the model is that politicians and voters have different priors concerning the desirability of a major reform. We show that electoral concerns may lead to anti-pandering. Politicians tend to put issues on their political agenda when voters are relatively pessimistic about a major reform, and keep issues off the table when voters are optimistic about major reform.

Keywords: agenda setting, career concerns, pandering

JEL Classification: D72, D78, D82, P16

Suggested Citation

Sayag, Rei and Swank, Otto H., What to Put on and What to Keep Off the Table? A Politician's Choice of Which Issues to Address (November 29, 2012). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. TI 12-127/VII, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2182475 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2182475

Rei Sayag (Contact Author)

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Barcelona
Spain

Otto H. Swank

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Tinbergen Institute Rotterdam (TIR)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 10 4081448 (Phone)
+31 10 2120551 (Fax)

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