NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Fundamental Errors in the Voting Booth

Edward L. Glaeser, Giacomo A.M. Ponzetto

NBER Working Paper No. 23683
Issued in August 2017
NBER Program(s):Political Economy

Psychologists have long documented that we over-attribute people’s actions to innate characteristics, rather than to luck or circumstances. Similarly, economists have found that both politicians and businessmen are rewarded for luck. In this paper, we introduce this “Fundamental Attribution Error” into two benchmark political economy models. In both models, voter irrationality can improve politicians’ behavior, because voters attribute good behavior to fixed attributes that merit reelection. This upside of irrationality is countered by suboptimal leader selection, including electing leaders who emphasize objectives that are beyond their control. The error has particularly adverse consequences for institutional choice, where it generates too little demand for a free press, too much demand for dictatorship, and responding to endemic corruption by electing new supposedly honest leaders, instead of investing in institutional reform.

download in pdf format
   (532 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23683

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Glaeser and Ponzetto w23686 The Political Economy of Transportation Investment
Goldfarb and Tucker w23684 Digital Economics
De Loecker and Eeckhout w23687 The Rise of Market Power and the Macroeconomic Implications
Altindag, Filiz, and Tekin w23613 Does It Matter How and How Much Politicians are Paid?
Benzell, Kotlikoff, and LaGarda w23675 Simulating Business Cash Flow Taxation: An Illustration Based on the “Better Way” Corporate Tax Reform
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us