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Regular version of the site

Article

Pandering and pork-barrel politics

Journal of Public Economics. 2019. No. 176. P. 79-93.
Maskin E. S., Tirole J.

We develop a model of pork-barrel politics in which a government official tries to improve her reelection chances by spending on targeted interest groups. The spending signals that she shares their concerns. We investigate the effect of such pandering on public spending. Pandering increases spending relative to a non-accountable official (one who does not have to run for reelection) if either the official's overall spending propensity is known, or if it is unknown but the effect of spending on the deficit is opaque to voters. By contrast, an unknown spending propensity may induce the elected official to exhibit fiscal discipline if spending is transparent.