Federal Mandates by Popular Demand

23 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2000  

Thomas R. Palfrey

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Jacques Cremer

Toulouse School of Economics (IDEI & GREMAQ)

Abstract

This paper proposes a new framework for studying federal mandates regarding public policies in areas such as environmental quality, public health, highway safety, and the provision of local public goods. Voters have single-peaked preferences along a single policy dimension. There are two levels of government, federal and local. The federal level can constrain local policy by mandating a minimum (or maximum) policy. Localities are free to adopt any policy satisfying the constraint imposed by the federal mandate. We show that voters choose federal mandates that are too strict, which leads to excessively severe mandates. We show that similar results can obtain when federal provision of the public-provided good is more efficient than local provision.

Suggested Citation

Palfrey, Thomas R. and Cremer, Jacques, Federal Mandates by Popular Demand. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 108, No. 5, October 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=241044 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.241044

Thomas R. Palfrey (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
301A Baxter Hall
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States
626-395-4088 (Phone)
626-4432-1726 (Fax)

Jacques Cremer

Toulouse School of Economics (IDEI & GREMAQ) ( email )

Toulouse School of Economics
21 Allee de Brienne
Toulouse Cedex 6, F-31015
France
+33 620116695 (Phone)
+33 5 6112 8637 (Fax)

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