Electoral Accountability, Distributive Conflict, and Information Aggregation

45 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2022 Last revised: 20 Oct 2023

See all articles by David Foster

David Foster

London School of Economics & Political Science

Joseph Warren

University of Alaska, Anchorage

Date Written: July 3, 2023

Abstract

Models of electoral accountability typically assume a politician provides a public good. Yet in many contexts, elected officials distribute private goods among voters with conflicting interests. We present a formal model to analyze this situation. An elected official allocates a rivalrous good to a number of voters, who each observe their own allocation but neither others' allocations nor the official's action. Each voter’s challenge is to determine whether the incumbent stole from other voters when deciding to sack or retain the incumbent. This problem can be resolved if voters retain the incumbent probabilistically, so that the vote of any voter from whom the incumbent steals is effectively up-weighted. In this way, the election aggregates information analogously to the Condorcet jury theorem, despite the "correct answer" being an endogenous choice by a strategic actor. This analysis highlights a surprisingly close conceptual connection between electoral accountability models and the Condorcet jury theorem.

Keywords: electoral accountability, distributive politics, moral hazard, probabilistic voting, Condorcet jury theorem

JEL Classification: C72, D70, D72

Suggested Citation

Foster, David and Warren, Joseph, Electoral Accountability, Distributive Conflict, and Information Aggregation (July 3, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4030440 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4030440

David Foster (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.fosterps.com/

Joseph Warren

University of Alaska, Anchorage ( email )

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