Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task


Alesina, Alberto, and Guido Tabellini. 2007. “Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task.” American Economic Review 97: 169-179.
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This paper investigates the normative criteria that guide the allocation of a policy task to an elected politician versus an independent bureaucrat. The bureaucrat is preferable for technical tasks for which ability is more important than effort, or if there is great uncertainty about whether the policymaker has the required abilities. The optimal allocation of redistributive tasks is ambiguous, and depends on how the bureaucrat can be instructed. But irrespective of the normative conclusion, the politician prefers not to delegate redistributive policies.


Reprinted in D. Masciandaro and M. Quintyn (2007), Designing Financial Supervision Institutions: Independence, Accountaiblity and Governance, Edward Elgar, UK.

Last updated on 04/03/2013