NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Interest Groups, Information Manipulation in the Media, and Public Policy: The Case of the Landless Peasants Movement in Brazil

Lee J. Alston, Gary D. Libecap, Bernardo Mueller

NBER Working Paper No. 15865
Issued in April 2010
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Environment and Energy Economics, Law and Economics, Political Economy

We extend the literature on interest group behavior and policy outcomes by examining how groups with limited resources (votes and campaign contributions) effectively influence government by manipulating media information to voters. Voters in turn lobby politicians to implement the group's preferred policies. In this manner interest groups can secure favorable government actions beyond their size and wealth. This is an important contribution because of the increased role of the media in the information age and because this linkage better explains observed government policies. We develop a multi-principal, multi-task model of interest group behavior and generate the characteristics of interest groups that would be most successful using publicity to secure their policy objectives. We apply the model to the Landless Peasants' Movement in Brazil. We detail how the Landless Peasants' Movement molds information; show the general voter response; and examine the reaction of politicians in changing the timing and nature of policy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15865

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