Voter Conformism and Inefficient Policies

44 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2019

See all articles by Huihui Ding

Huihui Ding

University of Cergy-Pontoise - THEMA

Cecile Aubert

GREThA; French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) - Laboratoire d'Economie des Ressources Naturelles (LERNA)

Date Written: February 22, 2019

Abstract

We study the efficiency of policies when some voters are conformists who like being on the winner's side and policies signal information. A re-election seeking incumbent has private information on both her ability and policy adequateness. Repealing a policy signals a mistake, which downgrades her perceived ability. Hence possibly inefficient policy persistence. Conformism is independent from the policies and from voters' perception, yet we identify a 'conformism advantage' for the incumbent that exists only when there is also incumbency advantage. We contrast an efficient equilibrium and a pooling, pandering one. Strong conformism makes pandering less likely, up to eliminating it. Weak conformism can however deteriorate welfare and increase pandering, but paradoxically only when the incumbent is 'altruistic' and values social welfare when not in power. We also discuss the impact of opinion polls and media coverage on coordination among conformist voters.

Keywords: conformity, pandering, incumbency advantage, signaling

JEL Classification: D72, D82

Suggested Citation

Ding, Huihui and Aubert, Cecile, Voter Conformism and Inefficient Policies (February 22, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3359166 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3359166

Huihui Ding (Contact Author)

University of Cergy-Pontoise - THEMA ( email )

33 boulevard du port
F-95011 Cergy-Pontoise Cedex, 95011
France

Cecile Aubert

GREThA ( email )

Avenue Leon Duguit
33608 Pessac Cedex, 33608
France

French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) - Laboratoire d'Economie des Ressources Naturelles (LERNA) ( email )

21, Allee de Brienne
31000 Toulouse
France

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