School of Economics and Finance

No. 441: Yardstick Competition and Political Agency Problems

Paul Belleflamme , Queen Mary, University of London
Jean Hendriks , Queen Mary, University of London

October 1, 2001

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This paper analyzes the role of yardstick competition for improving political decisions. We examine how performance comparisons across jurisdictions affect the agency problem resulting from uncertainty about politicians (adverse selection) and their policies (moral hazard). We study two forms of inefficiency: the provision of non-valuable programmes (over-provision) and the failure to provide valuable programmes (under-provision). We find a general neutrality result: yardstick competition does not affect the chance that at least one type of politician in one jurisdiction will take inefficient decision, nor does it affect the risk of underproviding good programmes. However, performance comparisons reduce the risk of providing bad programmes in both jurisdictions.

J.E.L classification codes: D72, H20, H71

Keywords:Electoral competition, Yardstick competition