NBER Publications by Kevin K. Tsui

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Working Papers and Chapters and Reporter Articles

June 2016The Upside-down Economics of Regulated and Otherwise Rigid Prices
with Casey B. Mulligan: w22305
A version of the Becker-Lancaster characteristics model featuring quality-quantity tradeoffs reveals a number of surprising market behaviors that can result from price regulations that are imposed on competitive markets for products that have adjustable non-price attributes. Quality need not clear a competitive market in the same way that prices do, because quality can reduce the willingness to pay for quantity. Producers can benefit from price ceilings, at the expense of consumers. Price ceilings can result in quality-degradation “death spirals” that would not occur under quality regulation or excise taxation. The features of tastes and technology that lead to such outcomes are summarized with pairwise comparisons of (not necessarily constant) elasticities.
March 2008Political Entry, Public Policies, and the Economy
with Casey B. Mulligan: w13830
This paper presents a theory of competition for political leadership between incumbent leaders and their challengers in which the possible equilibrium political market structures range from pure monopoly (unchallenged dictatorship) to perfectly competitive (ideal democracy). Leaders are constrained by the threat of "entry" or their ability to tax (or both), so that regimes with no challengers may nonetheless implement policies in the public interest. We offer economic interpretations of why democratic countries are associated with higher wages, why resource abundant countries tend to be nondemocratic, and how technological change affects political development. By focusing on the incentives for political entry, we show how trade sanctions and other policies designed to promote democracy may...

Published: Mulligan, Casey B. & Tsui, Kevin K., 2015. "Political entry, public policies, and the economy," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 377-397. citation courtesy of

October 2006Political Competitiveness
with Casey B. Mulligan: w12653
Political competitiveness - which many interpret as the degree of democracy - can be modeled as a monopolistic competition. All regimes are constrained by the threat of "entry," and thereby seek some combination of popular support and political entry barriers. This simple model predicts that many public policies are unrelated to political competitiveness, and that even unchallenged nondemocratic regimes should tax far short of their Laffer curve maximum. Economic sanctions, odious debt repudiation, and other policies designed to punish dictators can have the unintended consequences of increasing oppression and discouraging competition. Since entry barriers are a form of increasing returns, democratic countries (defined according to low entry barriers) are more likely to subdivide and n...

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers onlyInformation about this author at RePEc

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