2017

Design of Reforms with Time-Inconsistent Voters

Reprint No. 2017:73

Author(s): Jisoo Hwang and Johanna MöllerströmYear: 2017 Title: Journal of Public Economic Theory Volume (No.): 19 (3) Pages: 748–761
Online article (restrictions may apply)


Widespread agreement that a political reform is necessary is no guarantee that it is actually undertaken in a timely manner. There is often a delay before action is taken and reform packages that would be most efficient to implement all at once are often done only gradually. We propose a theoretical model explaining this behavior and show that when voters have present-biased, time-inconsistent preferences, gradualism can arise in equilibrium and be welfare-enhancing. This is because without the possibility for gradualism, time-inconsistent voters would delay implementing the reform even more. Using a citizen candidate model, we allow the agenda setter, who decides which reform schedule to put to vote, to be endogenously determined. We show that voters who are aware of their own time inconsistency can use the election of the agenda setter as a commitment device and appoint an agent who is more patient than the median voter in order to avoid full procrastination and to achieve efficiency-maximizing gradualism.


Reference:
Hwang, Jisoo and Johanna Möllerström (2017), "Design of Reforms with Time-Inconsistent Voters". Journal of Public Economic Theory 19(3), 748–761.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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