Beyond Ideology: Policy Alternation under Political Legacy Building
Posted: 25 Nov 2019 Last revised: 13 Apr 2020
Date Written: November 9, 2019
Policies tend to alternate between policy makers and their successors. We argue that differences in policy makers' ideology are not necessary factors in explaining this phenomenon of "policy see-sawing." Instead, we propose a novel mechanism by developing a dynamic model, where policy makers prefer making policy choices to be recognized as their political legacy. In each period, a policy maker has an incentive to pander and deviate from the ideal policy, as this provides him with less recognition than implementing more distinct policies from the status quo. The model generates two types of stylized facts: a situation where the ideal gets implemented consistently, and another situation where two (instead of many) distinct policies alternate along consecutive periods. This provides a foundation to justify why many formal analyses of multidimensional politics can be reduced to one dimension. The model generates broad implications when applied to substantive problems such as policy polarization and political agency.
Keywords: Political Legacy, Pandering, Policy Alternation, Polarization, Political Agency
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