Essays on Political Institutions

Essays on Political Institutions

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This collection of essays studies the preferences of political actors over the policies that their respective political institutions enact; what those preferences consist of, how they change and are changed by their institutional environment, and how to measure them given that institutional environment. Traditionally, scholars of positive political science have assumed that 1) preferences are exogenous and fixed, and 2) policies may be ordered on a single left-right ideological continuum over which preferences are single-peaked. The first essay in this collection takes these assumptions as given. It asks whether the preferences of legislators may be properly estimated from observable votes in Congress if one of a broad class of lawmaking theories known as pivot theories describes the data generating process. In pivot theories the consent of multiple key actors known as pivots are necessary for successful policy change. Clinton (2007) argues that the behavior predicted by pivot theories is such that legislators' underlying preferences should not be recoverable from votes. The contribution of the first essay is to argue and present Monte Carlo evidence that this claim is false for a sensible modification of the theories. The broader implication of this finding is that measures of legislators' policy preferences generated from votes are valid for testing a broad class of Congressional lawmaking theories. The second and third essays in this collection both present theoretical models that push beyond the traditional assumptions on policy preferences. The second essay (co-authored with Kenneth W. Shotts) extends the basic spatial model to capture the notion of good public policy by assuming that policies, in additional to their ideological quality, may have a valence dimension that is endogenously determined by political actors. Using this model we revisit the canonical Congressional committee specialization game proposed by Gilligan and Krehbiel, and demonstrate how modeling committee specialization as the production of policy-specific valence generates results that starkly contrast with widely accepted propositions about legislative organization in the Congressional literature. The third essay departs starkly from the spatial model by assuming that political actors share identical preferences over policy outcomes, and that their differences in realized policy preferences are the consequence of openly differing beliefs about which policies will most effectively achieve shared goals. The essay develops this assumption in the context of a simple delegation game of policy choice and implementation, and shows that when additional learning about policy efficacy is possible policy disagreements driven by openly differing beliefs predict markedly distinct behavior from previously analyzed forms of conflict. In particular, when political actors share power over policy choice and implementation, they have short-term incentives to take actions that they believe will persuade each other that their beliefs are mistaken. One manifestation of this incentive can be the choice by one political actor of a policy he is certain will lead to a negative outcome, in order persuade another actor that an alternative policy is superior.We wish to show Ucf (q, xc) alt; UTM* (xc). VTMi (q, xc) = V (g, xcl (q, xc)) alt; V (0, xcl {q, xc)) by Lemmas 5.1 and 5.4 alt; V (0, xcl (0, xc)) = VTM* (xc) by Lemmas 1, 5.3, and 5.1 This completes the proof. a–i Appendix D Figures for Chapter 4 Figureanbsp;...

Title:Essays on Political Institutions
Author: Alexander Victor Hirsch
Publisher:Stanford University - 2010

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