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Mainstream economics has only recently recognized the need to incorporate political constraints into economic analysis intended for policy advisors. "Incentives and Political Economy" uses recent advances in contract theory to build a normative approach to constitutional design in economic environments. It is written by one of Europe's leading theorists. The first part of the book remains in the tradition of benevolent constitutional design with complete contracting. It treats politicians as informed supervisors and studies how the Constitution should control them, in particular to avoid capture by interest groups. Incentive theories for the separation of powers or systems of checks and balances are developed. The second part of the book recognizes the incompleteness of the constitutional contract which leaves a lot of discretion to the politicians selected by the electoral process. Asymmetric information associates information rents with economic policies and the political game becomes a game of costly redistribution of those rents. Professor Laffont investigates the trade-offs between an inflexible constitution which leaves little discretion to politicians but sacrifices ex post efficiency and a constitution weighted towards ex post efficiency but also giving considerable discretion to politicians to pursue private agendas. The final part of the book reconsiders the modeling of collusion given asymmetric information. It proposes a new approach to characterizing incentives constraints for group behaviour when asymmetric information is non-verifiable. This provides a methodology to characterize the optimal constitutional response to activities of interest groups and to study the design of any institutions in which group behavior is important.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780199248681
ISBN-10: 0199248680
Format: Paperback
(218mm x 139mm x 15mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 18-Oct-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Jean-Jacques Laffont

Jean-Jacques Laffont is Professor of Economics at the University of Toulouse and director of the Institut d'Economie Industrielle (IDEI). His recent research focuses on regulation, political economy, and development. Winner of the Yrjo Jahnsson award in 1993, he was President of the Econometric Society in 1992 and President of the European Economic Association in 1998.

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