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Published April 1978 | public
Journal Article

Voters, bureaucrats and legislators: A rational choice perspective on the growth of bureaucracy


The claim that government is excessively bureaucratic can be interpreted as an assertion about inefficient factor proportions in the production of public goods. The rational choice theory of electoral competition is extended in this paper to include the election of representatives from separate districts, ombudsman activities by legislators, self-interested bureaucrats and production functions for public activities that have bureaucratic and nonbureaucratic arguments. If the demand for public goods grows exogenously through time, the model predicts increasingly inefficient factor proportions yet a growing advantage for incumbent legislators when they seek reelection.

Additional Information

© 1978 North-Holland Publishing Company. The authors gratefully acknowledge the comments and suggestions on an earlier draft from James Buchanan, Bruce Cain, John Jackson, Julius Margolis, Alan Peacock, Sam Peltzman, Barry Weingast and an anonymous referee. Formerly SSWP 159.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023