The demand for bad policy when voters underappreciate equilibrium effects

May 14, 2019
By: Dal Bó, ErnestoDal Bó, PedroEyster, Erik
Abstract: Most of the political-economy literature blames inefficient policies on institutions or politicians’ motives to supply bad policy, but voters may themselves be partially responsible by demanding bad policy. In this paper, we posit that voters may systematically err when assessing potential changes in policy by underappreciating how new policies lead to new equilibrium behavior. This biases voters towards policy changes that create direct benefits – welfare would rise if behavior were held constant – even if those reforms ultimately reduce welfare because people adjust behavior. Conversely, voters are biased against policies that impose direct costs even if they induce larger indirect benefits. Using a lab experiment, we find that a majority of subjects vote against policies that, while inflicting direct costs, would help them to overcome social dilemmas and thereby increase welfare. Subjects also support policies that, while producing direct benefits, create social dilemmas and ultimately hurt welfare. Both mistakes arise because subjects fail to fully anticipate the equilibrium effects of new policies. More precisely, we establish that subjects systematically underappreciate the extent to which policy changes will affect the behavior of other people, and that these mistaken beliefs exert a causal effect on the demand for bad policy.
Keywords: voting; reform; political failure; endogenous policy; experiment
JEL: C9 D7
URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:ehl:lserod:74455&r=ltv

Economic inequality and subjective well-being across the world

May 14, 2019
By: D’Ambrosio ConchitaClark Andrew
Abstract: We here use repeated cross-section data from the Afrobarometer, Asianbarometer Latinobarometer, and Eurobarometer to analyse the variables that are correlated with both current and future evaluations of standards of living. These are related not only to an individual’s own economic resources but also to the country distribution of resources.We consider resource comparisons (the gap in resources between richer and poorer individuals) and the normative evaluation of distribution (conditional on these gaps), given by the Gini coefficient. The ‘typical’ pattern of a negative effect of gaps on the better-off but a positive effect of gaps on the worse-off is found only in Europe: gaps for the better-off in Africa and Central and Latin America have no correlation with current life evaluations and are associated with more positive expectations of the future.Equally, there is no positive estimated coefficient for gaps to the worse-off in Asia. The Gini coefficient is negatively correlated with current life evaluation only in Asia, and is insignificant everywhere else. On the contrary, future life evaluations are more positive in more unequal countries in Africa and Central and Latin America.The relationship between the distribution of resources and measures of individual well-being over time is far from universal.
Keywords: Relative deprivation,WIID,Baromters,Gini coefficient,Inequality,Living conditions
URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2018-170&r=ltv