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

TitleTo elect or to appoint? Bias, information, and responsiveness of bureaucrats and politicians
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsIaryczower M, Lewis G, Shum M
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Volume97
Pagination230–244
ISSN00472727
ISBN Number00472727
KeywordsBureaucrats, Common values, Politicians, Strategic voting, Structural estimation
AbstractIn 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. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
DOI10.1016/j.jpubeco.2012.08.007
PubMed ID1355406