Do Elections Lead to Informed Public Decisions?

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. 03-067/1

42 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2003

See all articles by Otto H. Swank

Otto H. Swank

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

Bauke Visser

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

Date Written: August 25, 2003

Abstract

Democracies delegate substantial decision power to politicians. Using a model in which an incumbent can design, examine and implement public policies, we show that examination takes place in spite of, rather than thanks to, elections. Elections are needed as a carrot and a stick to motivate politicians, yet politicians who are overly interested in re-election shy away from policy examination. Our analysis sheds light on the distance created in mature democracies between the political process and the production of policy relevant information; on the role played by probing into candidates' past; and on the possibility of crowding out desirable political behaviour by increasing the value of holding office.

Keywords: Democracy, Media, Policy Examination, Multiple Tasks, Information, Elections

JEL Classification: D72, D78, D83

Suggested Citation

Swank, Otto H. and Visser, Bauke, Do Elections Lead to Informed Public Decisions? (August 25, 2003). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. 03-067/1, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=438881 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.438881

Otto H. Swank (Contact Author)

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)

Bauke Visser

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+ 31 (0)10 40 81449 (81441) (Phone)
+ 31 (0)10 40 89149 (Fax)

Tinbergen Institute Rotterdam (TIR)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

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