Efficiency, Welfare, and Political Competition
47 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2014
Date Written: May 23, 2014
We study political competition in an environment in which voters have private information about their preferences. Our framework covers models of income taxation, public-goods provision or publicly provided private goods. Politicians are vote-share-maximizers. They can propose any policy that is resource-feasible and incentive-compatible. They can also offer special favors to subsets of the electorate. We prove two main results. First, in a symmetric equilibrium, policies are surplus-maximizing and hence first-best Pareto-efficient. Second, there is a surplus-maximizing policy that wins a majority against any welfare-maximizing policy. Thus, in our model, policies that trade off equity and efficiency considerations are politically infeasible.
Keywords: political competition, asymmetric information, public goods, non-linear income taxation, redistributive politics
JEL Classification: C720, D720, D820, H410
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