Electoral Institutions and the National Provision of Local Public Goods
30 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2005
Date Written: May 11, 2006
I explore the incentives under alternative electoral institutions for national politicians to efficiently provide local public goods. Using a career-concerns models which incorporates voter ideological heterogeneity and thus allows comparison of electoral-college and majoritarian elections at the national level, I show that the aggregation of votes across localities in both electoral-college and majoritarian elections results in a weakening of incentives to efficiently provide local public goods. However, this effect is not unambiguously larger for one electoral institution or the other. Rather, electoral institutions interact with voter preferences to determine incentives. Electoral-college elections provide particularly weak incentives for national politicians to efficiently provide local public goods when there is local ideological bias for the incumbent or challenger, while such bias tends to cancel out in majoritarian elections. Further, electoral-college and majoritarian elections encourage different allocations of effort by national politicians when voters differ across localities in the degree to which they value public-goods provision. When such differences are sharp, electoral-college elections result in better public-goods provision for localities whose voters value public goods less, and majoritarian elections result in better provision for localities whose voters value public goods more.
Keywords: elections, federalism, political accountability, career concerns
JEL Classification: D72, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation