Hindsight-Biased Evaluation of Political Decision Makers

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2011
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Schuett, Florian
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Journal of Public Economics. Elsevier. 2011, 95(11-12), pp. 1621-1634. ISSN 0047-2727. eISSN 1879-2316. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2011.04.001
Zusammenfassung

Hindsight bias is a cognitive deficiency that leads people to overestimate ex post how predictable an event was. In this paper we develop a political-agency model in which voters are hindsight-biased and politicians differ in ability, defined as information concerning the optimal policy. When public information is not too accurate, low-ability politicians sometimes gamble on suboptimal policies: in an attempt to mimic the high-ability type, who has superior private information, they go against public information and choose a policy whose expected payoff to society is negative. We model hindsight bias as a memory imperfection that prevents voters from accessing their ex ante information about the state of the world. We show that the bias can act as a discipline device that reduces policy gambles and can therefore be welfare enhancing. Although it is well known that restrictions on information acquisition can be beneficial for a principal, our contribution is to show that a psychological bias can have such an effect.

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330 Wirtschaft
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Political agency; Policy gambles; Hindsight bias; Memory distortions
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ISO 690SCHUETT, Florian, Alexander WAGNER, 2011. Hindsight-Biased Evaluation of Political Decision Makers. In: Journal of Public Economics. Elsevier. 2011, 95(11-12), pp. 1621-1634. ISSN 0047-2727. eISSN 1879-2316. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2011.04.001
BibTex
@article{Schuett2011Hinds-1793,
  year={2011},
  doi={10.1016/j.jpubeco.2011.04.001},
  title={Hindsight-Biased Evaluation of Political Decision Makers},
  number={11-12},
  volume={95},
  issn={0047-2727},
  journal={Journal of Public Economics},
  pages={1621--1634},
  author={Schuett, Florian and Wagner, Alexander}
}
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