Self-Interest, Asymmetric Policy Effects, and Democratic Backsliding: Expanding the Analytical Toolbox

40 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2021

See all articles by Moshe Maor

Moshe Maor

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Date Written: September 10, 2021

Abstract


Theoretical models of political agency primarily incorporate elected executives’ self-interest as
motivating reelection-seeking behavior, which, in turn, keeps these politicians in check. A
concerning trend of democratic backsliding highlights that these models fail to capture variations
in the intensity of self-interest motivations and their effects, especially the discriminatory nature
of some seemingly universal policies. To bridge this gap conceptually, I focus on elected
executives’ efficiency in matching the intensity of the policy tool to the severity of policy problems,
thus developing the Ladder of Discriminatory Policy. I tie climbing and descending this modular
ladder to system-level policy punctuations; the asymmetric effects of policies on politically
relevant target groups; and to elected executives’ progression between three self-interest
constructs with varying levels of self-interest intensity. I explore socio-psychological and political
mechanisms that may facilitate this progression and develop the Discriminatory Policy
Conjecture, which can generate hypotheses regarding democratic backsliding and its remedies.

Keywords: self-interest, elected executives, asymmetric policy effects, discriminatory policy, democratic backsliding

JEL Classification: E61, E62, E64, E65, E66

Suggested Citation

Maor, Moshe, Self-Interest, Asymmetric Policy Effects, and Democratic Backsliding: Expanding the Analytical Toolbox (September 10, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3920846 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3920846

Moshe Maor (Contact Author)

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( email )

Jerusalem
Israel

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