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Bureaucrats or Politicians?

50 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2003  

Alberto F. Alesina

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Guido Tabellini

University of Bocconi - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research (CESifo); Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2004

Abstract

Policies are typically chosen by politicians and bureaucrats. This paper investigates the criteria that should lead a society to allocate policy tasks to elected policymakers (politicians) or non elected bureaucrats. Politicians are preferable for tasks that do not involve too much specific technical ability relative to effort; there is uncertainty about ex post preferences of the public and flexibility is valuable; time inconsistency is not an issue; small but powerful vested interests do not have large stakes in the policy outcome; effective decisions over policies require taking into account policy complementarities and compensating the losers. We then compare this normative benchmark with the case in which politicians choose when to delegate and we show that the two generally differ.

Keywords: politics, delegation, bureaucracies

JEL Classification: H1, E00, K00

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Tabellini, Guido, Bureaucrats or Politicians? (February 2004). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 1130; Harvard Institute of Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 2009; IGIER Working Paper No. 238. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=415046 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.415046

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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617-495-8388 (Phone)
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Guido Tabellini

University of Bocconi - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER) ( email )

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Italy
+39 02 5836 3305 (Phone)
+39 02 5836 3302 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research (CESifo)

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Germany

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Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Milan, 20136
Italy

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