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The Politics of Asymmetric Extremism

Hirsch, Alexander V. (2019) The Politics of Asymmetric Extremism. Social Science Working Paper, 1455. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA.

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In real-world policymaking, concrete and viable policy alternatives do not just appear out of thin air; they must be developed by someone with both the expertise and willingness to do so. We develop a model that explores the implications of strategic policy development by ideologically motivated actors, who craft competing high quality policies for a decisionmaker. We find that the process is characterized by unequal participation, inefficiently unpredictable and extreme outcomes, wasted effort, and an apparent bias toward extreme policies. When one proposer becomes asymmetrically extreme or capable they develop more extreme proposals, while their competitor moderates their proposals, increasingly declines to participate, and is harmed. Despite this, the decisionmaker benefits due to the increasing quality investments of the more extreme or capable proposer. The model thus provides rationale for why an ideologically extreme faction may come to dominate policymaking that is rooted in the nature of productive policy competition.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemEarlier version - "Policy entrepreneurship with asymmetric competition" (2015) ItemEarlier version - "Competitive policy entrepreneurship" (2013)
Hirsch, Alexander V.0000-0001-5166-9853
Other Contributors:
ContributionOther Contributors NameIdentifierPersonID (may be blank)
AuthorShotts, Kenneth W.Shotts-K-WUNSPECIFIED
Alternate Title:Ideological Contests with Quality Investments (2018), Policy Entrepreneurship with Asymmetric Competition (2015), Competitive Policy Entrepreneurship (2013)
Additional Information:I thank Ken Shotts, Adam Meirowitz, Dan Kovenock, Ron Siegel, Leeat Yariv, Federico Echenique, Salvatore Nunnari, Betsy Sinclair, and seminar audiences at USC, the University of Utah (Eccles School), and the 2018 SAET conference for helpful comments and advice, as well as Joanna Huey for research assistance.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:1455
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210129-113319359
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107807
Deposited By: Alexander Hirsch
Deposited On:29 Jan 2021 20:22
Last Modified:20 Feb 2021 00:31

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