Bad Politicians

Posted: 27 Apr 2000

See all articles by Francesco Caselli

Francesco Caselli

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2000

Abstract

We present a simple theory of the quality of elected officials. Quality has (at least) two dimensions: competence and honesty. Voters prefer competent and honest policymakers, so high-quality citizens have a greater chance of being elected to office. But low-quality citizens have a 'comparative advantage' in pursuing elective office, because their market wages are lower than the market wages of high-quality citizens (competence), and/or because they reap higher returns from holding office (honesty). In the political equilibrium, the average quality of the elected body depends on the structure of rewards from holding public office. Under the assumption that the rewards from office are increasing in the average quality of office holders there can be multiple equilibria in quality. Under the assumption that incumbent policymakers set the rewards for future policymakers there can be path dependence in quality.

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Caselli, Francesco and Morelli, Massimo, Bad Politicians (March 2000). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2402. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=223891

Francesco Caselli (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

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