In search of rational government: What political preference function studies measure and assume

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Abstract

Political preference function (PPF) studies assume that policy-making can be described by a mathematical problem in which a rational government maximizes a function of interest groups’ welfares. The purpose of my paper is to explain in-depth ramifications of PPF study assumptions and methodology. PPF studies that attempt to measure interest group political power do so by measuring marginal rates of transformation along a Pareto frontier. One can estimate political power with a PPF only if observed policies are Pareto-efficient, which may depend on the assumed number of interest groups and policy instruments. Marginal rates of transformation need not reveal anything meaningful about interest group political power, and may incorrectly measure the direction of transfers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-361
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
Volume76
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1994

Keywords

  • Pareto frontier
  • Political preference function
  • Transfers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics

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