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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 (2010) To Elect or to Appoint? Bias, Information, and Responsiveness of Bureaucrats and Politicians. Social Science Working Paper, 1323. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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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 need to 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.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemPublished Version
Shum, Matthew0000-0002-6262-915X
Additional Information:We thank Yosh Halberstam, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, Matt Spitzer, and participants in seminars at NYU, Northwestern-Kellogg, and UC Davis for useful comments to a previous version of this paper. Published in Journal of Public Economics 97 (2013): 230-244.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Subject Keywords:bureaucrats, elected officials, strategic voting, common values, structural estimation, mixture model
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:1323
Classification Code:JEL: D72, D78, C13
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170726-153100245
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:79453
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:07 Aug 2017 21:59
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:20

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