The struggle between opposing groups — that disagree on the composition of public consumption — results in governments being endogenously short-sighted: Systematic under investment in infrastructure and overspending on public goods arise, as resources are more valuable when in power. Because the party enjoying an electoral advantage is relatively less short-sighted, it devotes a larger proportion of government revenues to productive public investment. Political turnover, together with asymmetric policy choices, induces economic fluctuations in an otherwise deterministic environment. The author characterizes the long-run distribution of capital and shows that output increases on average with political advantage, despite the fact that the size of the government expands as a percentage of GDP. Volatility, on the other hand, is non-monotonic in political power and is an additional source of inefficiency.
The Dynamics of Public Investment Under Persistent Electoral Advantage
WP 11-23 - This paper studies the effects of asymmetries in re-election probabilities across parties on public policy and its subsequent propagation to the economy.