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To elect or to appoint? Bias, information, and responsiveness of bureaucrats and politicians

Iaryczower, Matias and Lewis, Garrett and Shum, Matthew (2013) To elect or to appoint? Bias, information, and responsiveness of bureaucrats and politicians. Journal of Public Economics, 97 . pp. 230-244. ISSN 0047-2727. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2012.08.007.

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In this paper, we address empirically the trade-offs involved in choosing between bureaucrats and politicians. In order to do this, we map institutions of selection and retention of public officials to the type of public officials they induce. We do this by specifying a collective decision-making model, and exploiting its equilibrium information to obtain estimates of the unobservable types. We focus on criminal decisions across US states' Supreme Courts. We find that justices that are shielded from voters' influence (“bureaucrats”) on average (i) have better information, (ii) are more likely to change their preconceived opinions about a case, and (iii) are more effective (make less mistakes) than their elected counterparts (“politicians”). We evaluate how performance would change if the courts replaced majority rule with unanimity rule.

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Shum, Matthew0000-0002-6262-915X
Additional Information:© 2012 Elsevier B.V. Received 19 May 2011. Received in revised form 1 August 2012. Accepted 6 August 2012. Available online 25 August 2012. We thank Juliana Bambaci, Charles Cameron, Yosh Halberstam, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, and participants in seminars at NYU, Northwestern-Kellogg, UC Davis and UPenn for useful comments to a previous version of this paper. Financial support from NSF grants SES-1061326 (Iaryczower) and SES-1061266 (Shum) is gratefully acknowledged.
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Subject Keywords:Structural estimation; Strategic voting; Common values; Bureaucrats; Politicians
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130401-090410491
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Official Citation:Matias Iaryczower, Garrett Lewis, Matthew Shum, To elect or to appoint? Bias, information, and responsiveness of bureaucrats and politicians, Journal of Public Economics, Volume 97, January 2013, Pages 230-244, ISSN 0047-2727, 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2012.08.007. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:37694
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:01 Apr 2013 16:27
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:30

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