Type of Document Dissertation Author Rodet, Cortney Stephen URN etd-04062011-101127 Title Essays and Experiments in Political Economy Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Economics, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title David J. Cooper Committee Chair R. Mark Isaac Committee Member Randall G. Holcombe Committee Member John T. Scholz University Representative Keywords
- Pork Barrel
- Drug Cartels
Date of Defense 2011-03-18 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis dissertation presents three papers that can be generally categorized as political economy. Though they differ in topic and methodology, a unifying theme is accountability. The first two papers focus on political accountability and the factors that influence a voterís decision to hold representatives responsible for their choices. Such factors include seniority advantage, information, and pork barrel spending. The third paper offers a look at the effects of a lack of accountability among police forces in Rio de Janeiroís favelas and the peculiar institution that has arisen as a result.
In the standard principal-agent relationship, a promise of long-term employment is considered a tool for ensuring quality performance on the part of the agent; however, in the political realm, the benefits that voters experience by having a senior politician empower the agent. I have constructed models to separately test the implications of term-limits as well as the information available to voters using laboratory experiments. In theory, term limits are meant to reduce the cost of replacing a senior incumbent who shirks. They should also dampen the effects of redistributive pork-barrel spending. I find that seniority is highly influential in votersí decisions even when incumbents support policies the median voter does not agree with. Nonetheless, voters do respond to shirking as well as the reduced cost of replacing an incumbent when terms are limited; however, term limits do nothing to overcome the collective action problem inherent in politics. Despite the individual voter response to shirking and term limits, reelection rates of shirking incumbents are not affected.
Revealing information about incumbentsí choices is usually assumed to benefit voters, but seniority advantage is costly to give up. This might imply that voters disregard such information. We might also assume that information revelation should influence an incumbentís decision to shirk unless they are confident seniority insulates them from retribution. Results suggest that voters are significantly more responsive to incumbent shirking when information improves under certain conditions. Moreover, incumbents are less likely to shirk when voters are informed, but simply informing voters about their own incumbentís decisions is not enough to encourage accountability. I find that voters are more responsive when they can compare their own incumbentís behavior to others in the legislature. This provides a bench mark that allows them to compare their outcome to the overall norm. It also influences incumbent behavior. Although shirking does not completely cease, incumbents appear to be concerned with not being the worst offender which leads to a decrease in the negative impact on voters.
The third paper investigates the peculiar relationship between drug dealers, police and missionaries found in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Despite having socio-political control drug factions allow peace workers, like missionaries and NGOs, to operate in their territories. The objective is to explain why violently powerful dealers allow the presence of competitive rivals who offer a substitute good. A model is developed that does not rely on irrationality or perverse forms of altruism. Instead, it suggests that dealers allow missionaries to work in the favelas to avoid costly conflict with corrupt police forces. Police are feared and distrusted by favela residents due to brutality and criminality. If the police have not run factions out of a favela and taken over illegal activity completely, they collect payment from local faction leaders in exchange for permission to sale drugs and arms. Attempts to gain control of profitable territories make deadly skirmishes frequent. Innocent residents fall victim to this violence, but police action is rarely investigated and holding those involved accountable is even rarer. Instead, victims are reported to be involved in the drug trade, which the media and upper-classes accept despite protest by favela residents. I argue that this secrecy would not be possible if a missionary was a victim of such conflict. Because defense is costly, perhaps more so than the cost of losing customers from missionary efforts, drug factions rationally allow these rivals to operate to prevent police forces from attempting to take over territory.
In summary, accountability affects the relationship between citizen and state. This work is a positive analysis of this connection, but we are naturally led to ask normative questions. If issues like seniority and pork-barrel spending discourage voters from holding agents responsible for actions, what can we say about the condition of representative government? When citizens are abandoned by the state and no longer have police protection, can they truly rely on criminal factions to uphold social order, regardless of their tactics or motives?
Filename Size Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)
28.8 Modem 56K Modem ISDN (64 Kb) ISDN (128 Kb) Higher-speed Access Rodet_C_Dissertation_2011.pdf 2.68 Mb 00:12:24 00:06:22 00:05:35 00:02:47 00:00:14