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Revealed Political Power

Jinhui Bai and Roger Lagunoff ()
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Jinhui Bai and Roger Lagunoff: Department of Economics, Georgetown University,

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Roger Lagunoff () and Jinhui H. Bai ()

Working Papers from Georgetown University, Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper adopts a revealed preference" approach to the question of what can be inferred about bias in a political system. We model an economy and its political system from the point of view of an outside observer." The observer sees a finite sequence of policy data, but does not observe either the citizens' preference profile or underlying distribution of political power that produced the policies. The observer makes inferences about distribution of political power as if political power were derived from a wealth-weighted voting system with weights that can vary with the state of the economy. The weights determine the nature and magnitude of the wealth bias. Positive weights on relative income in any period indicate an elitist" bias in the political system whereas negative weights indicate a populist" one. As a benchmark, any policy data is shown to be rationalized by any system of wealthweighted voting. However, by augmenting the observer's observations with polling data, nontrivial inference is possible. We show that joint restrictions resulting from the policy and polling data together imply upper and lower bounds on the set of rationalizing biases. These bounds can be explicitly calculated and can be used to discern instances of elitist bias; in other times they show populist bias. Additional restrictions on the preference domain can rule out the unbiased benchmark case of equal representation.

Keywords: wealth-bias; elitist bias; populist bias; weighted majority winner; rationalizing weights; "Anything Goes Theorem" (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C73 D63 D72 D74 H11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-pol
Date: 2010-05-10
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Journal Article: REVEALED POLITICAL POWER (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: Revealed Political Power (2010) Downloads
Working Paper: Revealed Political Power (2010)
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Roger Lagunoff Professor of Economics Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036

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