Enforcement Agency

24 Pages Posted: 1 May 2023

See all articles by David Foster

David Foster

London School of Economics & Political Science

Date Written: April 30, 2023


In most electoral agency models, the principal observes an increasing signal of the agent's effort. But in enforcement contexts, the signal may be nonmonotonic. This is the case if the principal observes enforcement actions rather than underlying violation incidents (e.g., crime or infections). The core problem is that due to enforcement's deterrent effect, high enforcement becomes indistinguishable from low enforcement. Given this, I study implications for electoral agency. I demonstrate that an agent type motivated by minimizing violations may enforce at a suboptimal level to avoid imitation by an agent type motivated by rents. I also examine the role of the agent's budget and the degree to which the agent is electorally accountable. Interestingly, a larger budget and more electoral accountability can worsen voter welfare. This work has important substantive implications for democratic accountability over public services such as policing and public health.

Keywords: electoral accountability, pandering, enforcement, policing, public health

JEL Classification: C72, D72, D73, D82

Suggested Citation

Foster, David, Enforcement Agency (April 30, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4433750 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4433750

David Foster (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science ( email )

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

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