NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Power-hungry Candidates, Policy Favors, and Pareto Improving Campaign Finance Policy

Stephen Coate

NBER Working Paper No. 9601
Issued in April 2003
NBER Program(s):   PE

This paper argues that campaign finance policy, in the form of contribution limits and matching public financing, can be Pareto improving even under the most optimistic assumptions concerning the role of campaign advertising and the rationality of voters. The argument assumes that candidates use campaign contributions to convey truthful information to voters about their qualifications for office and that voters update their beliefs rationally on the basis of the information they have seen. It also assumes that campaign contributions are provided by interest groups and that candidates can offer to provide policy favors for their interest groups to attract higher contributions. The argument is developed in the context of a simple model of political competition with campaign contributions and informative advertising.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9601

Published: Coate, Stephen. "Pareto-Improving Campaign Finance Policy," American Economic Review, 2004, v94(3,Jun), 628-655.

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