To Elect or to Appoint? Bias, Information, and Responsiveness of Bureaucrats and Politicians

44 Pages Posted: 25 May 2010 Last revised: 4 Feb 2012

See all articles by Matias Iaryczower

Matias Iaryczower

Princeton University

Garrett Lewis

California Institute of Technology

Matthew Shum

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 22, 2011

Abstract

In this paper, we address empirically the trade-offs involved in choosing between bureaucrats and politicians. In order to do this, we need to map institutions of selection and retention of public officials to the type of public officials they induce. We do this by specifying a collective decision-making model, and exploiting its equilibrium information to obtain estimates of the unobservable types. We focus on criminal decisions across US states' Supreme Courts. We find that justices that are shielded from voters' influence (“bureaucrats”) on average (i) have better information, (ii) are more likely to change their preconceived opinions about a case, and (iii) are more effective (make less mistakes) than their elected counterparts (”politicians”). We evaluate how performance would change if the courts replaced majority rule with unanimity rule.

JEL Classification: D72, D78, C13

Suggested Citation

Iaryczower, Matias and Lewis, Garrett and Shum, Matthew, To Elect or to Appoint? Bias, Information, and Responsiveness of Bureaucrats and Politicians (October 22, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1615781 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1615781

Matias Iaryczower (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

Garrett Lewis

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

Matthew Shum

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Economics ( email )

3400 Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218-2685
United States
410-516-8828 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.jhu.edu/people/shum/

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