50 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2003
Date Written: February 2004
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: 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